The Pfister has always served a special role in Jackie and Jim Green’s life. Mainly, as a place for them to escape their kids.
The Greens live in Arlington Heights, a suburb just outside Chicago, and they have four children – two girls and two boys – ages 22, 21, 20 and 19. They are all in college – or about to attend college – in the Midwest.
I ask them what it was like when they were all teenagers.
“It was horrible,” she says. “The girls suck up a lot, they know how to play it. Actually, our two nicest kids are the ones we never hear from. Well, unless they need money. And our youngest – we can’t wait until she leaves. She’s a real pain in the neck.”
I tell her my kids are 10, 10 and 9 and I’m starting to feel a little unsettled about the years ahead.
“I wish I could tell you it’s going to be great,” she says, sipping her drink. “Sorry.”
“It’s refreshing to talk to someone who’s honest about parenting,” I say. “And I’m officially terrified.”
“I’m pretty realistic,” she says, laughing. “We’re actually here because they’re all coming home for the summer on Wednesday. This is our last hurrah.”
The Greens plan to go on a family vacation to Florida this summer. But they’re leaving two days before them to get in some kid-free time first.
Jackie and Jim first heard about the Pfister from friends who had their wedding reception in the Rouge Ballroom.
“How long ago was that?” Jackie asks Jim.
“100 years ago?” he says.
“25 years ago,” she tells me. “They told us about it and said we should try it. By the way, your dress is really cute.”
“Thanks,” I say. “My coworker said it looked like something Mrs. Roper from ‘Three’s Company’ would wear.”
“Oh, no! I noticed it right away and thought it was cute. And then I saw your face and I thought, ‘How do I know that girl?’ and then I remembered you from my iPad! I read about you on the Pfister web page on the car ride up here and then: here you are,” she says.
The Greens come to the Pfister twice a year, usually in the spring and the fall, and they spend most of their time inside the hotel. However, one year they went to see Aerosmith, and the night of our interview they were going to Ward’s House of Prime because they had a Groupon.
But most of their weekends are centered around the on-site bars and restaurants.
“We plan our entire day around going to Blu. If you get there too late, you can’t get a seat. You need to get there when it opens. At 5,” she says.
“Go early, stay late?” I ask.
The Greens have a lot of Pfister memories. Jackie celebrated her 50th birthday at the hotel. They also came last January when a burst pipe led to flooding in some rooms, including theirs.
“So we hung out in this bar for six hours until we could get into our room. It was crazy. It was fun. We love this bar,” she says.
I ask her if she’s enjoying her sea breeze cocktail.
“It’s very good, but have you tried the Bloody Mary?” she asks me.
“No, but you are the second person today to tell me I have to,” I say.
“It’s amazing. Wait, I have a picture of it, on my phone. You have to see this,” she says, scrolling through the photo log on her cell phone. “Is it sad when you’re showing someone a picture of a drink on your phone?”
“Oh, here it is!” she looks at it fondly. “The cheese. The pickles. The sausage!”
I like these people. They are easy to talk to; they are real. And I’m always happy when Chicagoans see beauty in Milwaukee. Certainly there are attractive old hotels in The Windy City: The Palmer House, The Drake. So why The Pfister?
“It’s the history. We love it here,” she say. “It’s the only reason we come to Milwaukee. Well, other than to get away from our kids.”