Long Branch Saloon expands to be much more than a bar
FAITHORN — It would be difficult to talk about Faithorn without mentioning The Long Branch Saloon.
The popular bar and grill on County Road 388 is best known for its famous fish fries.
“Fridays are definitely the busiest night of the week,” manager Rosie Gunville said.
On average, the business serves about 350 to 400 fish baskets every Friday night.
Gunville, who is in the process of taking over ownership of the saloon from her parents, Jeff and Tammy Kiser, says she remembers her mother saying “we are not going to do fish fries,” because she didn’t want to work that hard.
“I told her, ‘Good, me neither’ — and here we are, doing a lot of fish fries,” she said.
The beer batter still is her mother’s original recipe. They offer perch, pollock, cod, walleye, shrimp and combo baskets. Customers have their choice of potato — french fries, steak fries, curly fries, waffle fries, sweet potato fries, baked potato or potato salad. In addition, they serve coleslaw, baked beans and rye bread with their baskets.
The Long Branch has received many People’s Choice awards over the years. This year was no exception, as they were honored with 10 certificates, including “Best Fish Fry” and “Best Restaurant.”
Other popular menu items are their burgers, pizzas, chicken, wings, ribs, steaks, pasta and sandwiches. They offer a special every night of the week.
Most of the items are homemade, including all the pasta sauces, Gunville said.
She has added different food items over the years. The bar business isn’t what it used to be, she explained, so food is needed to keep people coming.
“Good food is what draws the customers in,” Gunville said.
Gunville recommends calling ahead to 906-438-2377, especially for larger groups, as they don’t always have the staff available, especially for outdoor seating.
During holidays or other special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Easter, she will set up a buffet.
The Long Branch also can host events such as weddings, bridal or baby showers, graduation parties, birthday parties or Christmas parties.
She offers a variety of food options for those gatherings. “I work with the budget they have in mind and what they would like and create a menu,” Gunville said. “I’ll pretty much do whatever they want.”
They then handle everything except the decorating. “I leave that up to them,” she said.
“It works out really good. They don’t have to have the mess at their house — they come and everything is done for them,” Gunville said.
As a thank you to her customers, she annually puts on a Customer Appreciation Day during the summer that features live music and lots of food.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic crisis that forced restaurants for several weeks to close except for takeout or delivery, Gunville said business has stayed steady.
“My customers have been so great during this and so supportive,” she said. “Obviously when you are only doing takeout orders it was little rough but right now it’s good.”
She credits her “great” staff as well, saying the business wouldn’t be what it is without them.
The Kisers purchased the business in 2006 from Kevin Kurth. They then began making structural changes to the original building that was built by Russ Gustafson and Joe Hanna in November 1994.
“It was basically just the small bar area originally, with no kitchen,” Gunville said.
First they enclosed the porch area, adding the kitchen, then put on the addition to the dining room and walk-in cooler storage room.
Her parents did so much with the place, from the building addition to getting the menu going and keeping it consistant, Gunville noted.
They recently remodeled their bathrooms and expanded the covered patio area, which provides more outdoor seating, now an important fixture given the COVID-19 restrictions.
For the future, Gunville said they’ll turn their attention to the exterior.
“I’m not thinking about doing any changes as far as the business end right now, just some upgrades, including the outside of the building,” she said.
In addition, Gunville has begun offering bakery items such as cakes and cupcakes, which she said has really taking off. Some of her flavors include raspberry almond, peanut butter and jelly, red velvet, double chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel, cookies and cream, cookie dough, strawberry vanilla and Snickers.
Due to having many dates already booked, she currently is taking only limited orders until October at 906-282-6369.
The Long Branch opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
They offers takeouts as well. Orders can be placed by calling 906-438-2377.
Gunville welcomes area residents to take a drive to W8400 County Road 388 in Faithorn to check them out.
“Our kitchen is always open,” she said, “and the beer is always cold.”