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Weird Michigan: Antlers Taxidermy Restaurant, Sault Ste. Marie

The latest of our Absolute Michigan “Weird Wednesdays” (held the last Wednesday of every month) is an excerpt from the forthcoming Strange Michigan: More Wolverine State Weirdness by Linda S. Godfrey and Lisa Shiel. Linda is the author of Weird Michigan and also took the photo, which you can see larger if you click it!

Antlers Restaurant Aficionados of the strange will love being met by a stuffed, two-headed calf rather than the standard one-headed hostess when they enter the Antlers Restaurant on Portage Avenue in Sault Ste. Marie. And although a live human will eventually greet and seat each diner, the restaurant’s population of dead animals far outstrips the number of daily customers who come to sit among the mounted fish, fur and feathers that fill the walls and ceilings of this popular eatery. Antlers from every hooved ungulate that ever walked the planet, mountain lions, beaver, coyote, mink, and more all are stuffed in a merry jumble that you really otter see.

The place had a colorful start as the Bucket of Blood Saloon and Ice Cream Parlor, the ice cream part tacked on for legitimacy during Prohibition. Town legend has it that many of the animals in the Antlers were traded by hard-up trapper types in exchange for booze. Tourist guides claim that a thirsty but cash-poor patron named Tiny contributed the moose head, a Pontiac, his gun and even a relative. A giant log was left outdoors in an unsuccessful liquor barter attempt made by a soused lumberjack. The place is so rustic that the old TV show, Gunsmoke, filmed three episodes within its colorful walls. The rough and tumble ambience would have made even Miss Kitty swoon.

The restaurant is also known for boat whistles, horns, and hair-raising announcements of all kinds that blare from the PA at regular intervals just in case anyone gets too complacent. Diners sensitive to unexpected screeching or who get nervous eating with hundreds of beady little eyes trained upon them should be forewarned. Everyone else will have a blast, literally.

Visit the Antlers Restaurant web site.

Linda Godfrey grew up in Milton, Wisconsin, spending the majority of her time doing the same things she does now; reading, writing, making art and reading comics. She continues to create commercial art (represented by Tom Stocki at artfactoryltd.com) and fine art, and often illustrates her own books, specializing in cut paper collage and forensic drawings of strange creatures from witness descriptions. She lives in rural Elkhorn with her husband, Steven, with whom she has two grown sons who are remarkably tolerant of their mother’s weird career.