Magnet Billiards and Bar in Oshkosh closing after nearly 80 years in business

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A downtown Oshkosh business that has been a landmark over the decades will only be open one more day.

“When I was 17, my dad started taking me into The Magnet," said Kendal Koch, "and that’s kind of where I fell in love with pool and kind of headed down that path."

Koch took ownership of the Magnet Bar in Oshkosh ten years ago. “It was amazing,” said Koch. “It was kind of surreal because I had been going there for so long.”

But the nearly 80-year-old downtown landmark will have its last day of business Saturday, Aug. 24.

“It was definitely a hard decision and it wasn’t easily done,” said Koch.

Koch says one of the main reasons for closing was that his other business, the Mad Apple in Appleton, was taking more time than he anticipated. The other was that he was renting the Magnet’s building and didn’t get an opportunity to own it.

“I was shocked,” said Tyler Westenberger, a longtime customer and former employee. “This is our Cheers. Nobody wants to lose that.”

“It’s just disappointing to a lot of people, I think,” said Dillion Leichefuss, a Magnet bartender. “It was a home base bar to a lot of people.”

It’s not just the emotional ties to this place that’s making this farewell difficult. A lot of people also pointed out the Magnet Bar has historical significance.

“The old-time players like Willie Mosconi and all those players… back in the day would come through as the place to play pool,” said Koch. “It was the original pool hall. It was also the first and only Wisconsin beer-bar only.”

“It’s been here for my whole lifetime, it’s been here for many people’s whole lifetimes,” said Westenberger. “That’s a lot of history to have go out the window.”

Koch and many others are hopeful that whoever owns the Magnet next will continue its legacy.

“I think it has such an iconic feel for so many people,” said Koch.

But for now, they are preparing for a final goodbye.

“I love the Magnet, I love the people, and I’m going to miss it,” said Westenberger.

“It formed a lot of who I am, and a lot of my successes are based on the fact that I learned there what I learned,” said Koch. “It really is an amazing place.”

Koch did say that the Magnet Pro Shop, which sells and repairs billiard equipment, will move to the Mad Apple and remain under the same management.