Antlers Restaurant
Portage Avenue

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

June 17, 2000

While we were staying in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, looking for things to do, I happened to come across an ad for a restaurant called Antlers in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. From what I could tell from the ads it was a most unusual restaurant, in that it contained an eclectic mixture of various stuffed animals, plus lots of antlers from all kinds of different species. Since we had to run across the bridge to take care of some business on the US side I was able to talk Bob into taking me to lunch at Antlers. All I can say is WOW! Only the strong at heart and those who don't mind being watched need go there. Every which way you looked there was something looking back at you. (Yes, some of them were other tourists) but a good many were stuffed animals from all over. Right over our table was an extremely large Moose head. (I have a feeling that the hunter lost, as there was a rifle caught in his antlers.) Then across from him was a Caribou. There were small animals of all types hanging on the walls in various poses. As you walked in the door they featured a two headed calf. Then to your left was an extremely large polar bear. Unfortunately the Polar Bear was inside a glass enclosure and it was impossible to get a good picture. Infamous Northern Fur Fish
According to their literature the restaurant is in a state of suspended animation. That is, there is a prodigious amount of junk hanging from unseen wires above the occupants' heads, like so many swords of Damacles, a veritable cloud of rifles, pawn-brokers' signs, moose, and a birch bark canoe just swaying up there, denying gravity and the laws of physics. It seems that tourists who eat in the Antlers often come down with feelings of anxiety because of this and because of the stories they have heard about the place.

Seems the Antlers Restaurant was first known as the "Bucket-of-blood Saloon and Ice Cream Parlor." Not-so-surprisingly it was run during the Prohibition days, and so it had to have a front. Seems that IRS caught on when they reported that they sold only one quart of ice cream in a month but had reported profits of $900.00. (Hagen-Daas eat your heart out). After that it became the first lemonade stand in history that refused to sell to minors.
Actually the history of the saloon goes back more than four generations, three families of owners, with the current family ownership, the Kinney family, contributing the name and the memorabilia that adorn the ceiling and the walls.
Personally, I like the story about the restaurant acquiring all the junk that hangs from the ceiling by barter. Local wags point out to visitors that the Antlers had a policy of exchanging money for material goods; thereby operating one of the few "bar"-gaining economics in the world.
One of the things that was interesting was the sign at the door to be aware of possible whistles and horns of all sorts. Seems that the bartender indicates the importance of a guest, or the distance a visitor had traveled by the combination of whistles, bells and honks from the bar. While we were there (they were not impressed by the fact we were from Ohio and internationally known writers) the bartender decided to go through her routine just to make sure everything was working. The cacophony was tremendous. I could have sworn I saw our Moose (by then I figured I might as well adopt him, since he seemed to be "watching out for us") flip his ears down to cut down on the noise.
A lady at the visitors' center had recommended the "Irish Onion Soup". It was a different interpretation of French Onion Soup in that it contained a lot more croutons, mushrooms and slivers of almonds. A very interesting soup indeed. The food wasn't bad but I definitely recommend Antlers for its interesting atmosphere, if you get in the area.

As they say, there are a great many truths in the world but you may never hear them in the Antlers Restaurant. A truth may seem like a lie in a place where so many lies have been told, and where the insecurity of the world seems small compared to the lingering doubt that some of that stuff up above and all around is due to come down, like the sword of Damocles, and end it all.
Well, Damocles or not, we ate, enjoyed and got out safely.

Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!