A biker bar with a side of community

By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff

April 2, 2015

Jeff Stoll has owned Stolley’s Hogg Alley, 2008 N. Venice St., for the last nine years. Stoll bought the bar as a way to supplement his construction and development job. Since then it has become his life’s work. 
Eric Oliver/Enterprise Staff 

OCONOMOWOC — For the last 24 years, Stolley’s Hogg Alley has anchored the corner at 2008 Venice Beach Road, but still the unassuming biker-friendly bar has a problem confronting it.

It has a certain perception.

It’s dark on the inside, novelty road signs promoting riding are scattered across the walls, there are darts and video gambling inside. Somewhat risqué bathroom signs hang with pride and oddly enough a toy claw machine custom built to hold fresh lobster sits in the corner. It’s reputation as a dive keeps people away, owner Jeff Stoll said.

But the food and a friendly staff assure that the bar is packed every Friday night.

“It’s a corner bar, but a corner bar that serves good food,” Stoll said. “We’re a clean and good place.”

Stoll has worked to get people into the bar and erase the perception that it’s for bikers only since he took over on a gamble nine years ago, and it’s working. Although bikers are always encouraged to stop in, any time he leaves the kitchen he said he is always surprised to see new faces in his dining room. He has kids, adults and grandparents frequently coming to the bar to eat. He even had a bridge group come once to play.

When he isn’t working, and he looks at the bar as he drives by, he is always blown away by the amount of cars packing the parking lot and surrounding city streets, he said.

“Any split chance I get I’ll walk out and thank people for being here and I’ll ask them how the food is,” Stoll said. “Very, very few times do I ever walk out and get a negative response.”

The funny thing about it all is Stoll was never a chef. He worked in construction and development before owning Hogg Alley. He relayed that people frequently asked him if his mother taught him how to cook. He said if anything she told him to stay out of the kitchen. His culinary success secrets can largely be attributed to the Internet, he said.

“If I have a question, or I want to do something new I just go online and I’ll read something and grab a couple of different recipes to make it into my own,” Stoll said.

What started as a way to pay for his child’s education has become his life’s work, at least for the near future.

“It doesn’t feel like a job to me,” Stoll said. “Everyone is like, ‘Oh it has to be a lot of hours.’ I say that ‘it is, but I have a lot of energy.’” Stoll wants to work, and he wants to do something he loves. The bar fits both of those criteria, he said. He has no plans to leave anytime soon, and as long as he is there the bar will remain a part of the both the biker and Oconomowoc community.

As for the perception associated with it, Stoll will keep inviting people to come in and check it out before they decide anything. It’s a gamble he is sure he will win.