When Josh was a kid, he and his family used to vacation in Door Country Wisconsin. The ride from his hometown, Oconomowoc, was about 4 hours long…which seemed interminable to him as a child. But he knew when they passed “the restaurant with the goats on the roof,” he was nearly there.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik has been a fixture in Sister Bay, WI, for over 58 years. Al and his wife, Ingert, became well known locally for their traditional fare like Swedish Pancakes, Lingonberries, Meatballs & Limpa bread. But what truly put this family restaurant on the map was the day a friend of Al’s pulled a prank on him and hoisted a goat up onto the restaurant’s traditional Scandinavian sod roof. (The goat had the last laugh, however, when it kicked the ladder over toppling the prankster to the ground.) Since then, there have always been up to a dozen goats grazing on the roof (weather-permitting.)
We were honored that Al’s son Lars, who now runs the restaurant, boutique, and expanding food product line, agreed to take a few moments out of his busy day to bring us up on the roof and introduce us to his goats. (After stuffing us with the most amazing Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.)
We love visiting iconic family businesses who’ve kept their passion going for multiple generations. They are the true landmarks of America’s roadways - creating memories for generations of passersby, and reassuring young kids like Josh that they’re finally, really, “almost on vacation.”