Log cabin setting for The Chuckwagon
SPREAD EAGLE, Wis. — The Chuckwagon originally started as a tourist camp when it was built just off U.S. 2 in Spread Eagle in the 1930s.
The log cabin setting and wildlife mounts inside make for a North Woods look and feel for showcasing its signature burgers and fish fry.
“The great food and atmosphere,”owner Audra Opsahl said, “is just like going to camp.”
While the business has had several different owners throughout the years, Opsahl and her father, Bruce Martin, purchased the restaurant in 1995 and she and husband Rick took over after her dad retired in 2002.
Although the number of employees at the restaurant changes with the season, at least five have worked at the Chuckwagon for more than 15 years. Manager Carrie Lasee-Wheeler, who has been with the restaurant for more than two decades, said she loves working there. “The customers and employees are like friends and family,” she said.
Customers favor the burgers, especially the bacon cheeseburger, along with the prime rib sandwiches, chicken strips, variety of appetizers and fish, Lasee-Wheeler said.
They recently added a small salad bar.
“We have a wide variety of burgers to chose from and the best fish fry options, including our top-selling perch and walleye,” Lasee-Wheeler said.
The Chuckwagon also is known for its Old Fashioned mixed drinks.
“We make the best Old Fashioned. Customers come in after work just to have one,”Lasee-Wheeler said.
They claim as well to have the coldest beer in the area. “We have a glycol tap beer system — it’s just above freezing,” Lasee-Wheeler said.
A Kalamazoo radio station, WKFR or K102.5, recently gave The Chuckwagon an honorable mention as one the Best Hole-In-The-Wall Bars in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, even though it is not in the U.P. They quoted an online Yelp review:
“Walking up to the place, it has a smell that you just know you’re about to get good food. It reminded me of a place back home with some of the best burgers I have ever had. That being said, these were better! … This place is totally worth the short drive outside of Iron Mountain.”
Opsahl was pleased to be recognized. “My daughter, Alyssa Digneit, who owns Digs in Marquette, told me about the honorable mention. I was elated about the nod. It’s an honor,” she said.