It’s unlikely that Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, bowled his first strike at The Plaza Tavern and Grill in Madison. The Philadelphia-area native graduated from Harvard University in 1977, and the Plaza closed its bowling lanes in 1973–74.
The Plaza’s business dates to the 1920s, when legend is that UW football player Frank “Moon” Molinaro served the tavern’s first beers from a back-room speakeasy during prohibition. In 1927, the Capital Times introduced, “Madison’s newest and most up-to-date billiard parlor — The Plaza — at 315 N. Henry Street. … The first floor is devoted to a soda fountain, a barbershop and 14 billiard tables. The second floor will be devoted to 14 bowling alleys. A parlor for ladies is one of the unusual features of the new establishment.”
On Feb. 12, 1930, Plaza Alleys made bowling history when Madison’s Jennie Hoverson Kelleher bowled the first 300 game by a woman in sanctioned competition. After the Plaza’s bowling lanes were closed, the building’s upstairs was used for laser tag in the 1980s, and is now office space.
Some famous Plaza patrons have included Bill Murray, Johnny Cash, Tom Wopat, Brett Favre, Neil Young, Joan and John Cusack, and Greta Van Susteren — but the Plaza is most famous for its secret sauce, created by former owner Mary Huss in 1963, and served on its Plazaburger.