Log Homes Illustrated - March 2006
When Jamie Maschmeyer opened his first restaurant, he drew on fond memories of his grandparents in northern Wisconsin, especially the rib-sticking food his grandmother cooked. He wanted to offer that same food and in a setting reminiscent of Wisconsin's north woods.
His Northwoods Hearty Home Cookin' & Saloon restaurant, located in a shopping center, featured wood paneling. It was a start. But Jamie aspired to do better.
Stan Fryzel, a sales representative for Expedition Log Homes, remembers Jamie stopping by in 1998 to talk about buying a log home. When Jamie mentioned his restaurant, Stan handed him some literature on commercial log buildings. A few years later, Jamie took delivery of a log package for a 7,500 square-foot restaurant in Frankfort, Illinois.
The following year, Jamie added a log façade to his shopping-center restaurant. The response to both places was so great that he decided to up the ante. He went back to Stan, this time looking for a suitable location for his pièce de résistance.
After finding 10 acres along busy Route 41 in Schererville, Indiana, Jamie began designing a restaurant that would be twice as big as his previous one. "He had some ideas for a design," Stan recalls. "I put him in touch with the designers at Expedition, who helped him expand and refine his ideas. He added a bandstand, enlarged the bar area, added more room for tables and an outside deck, which overlooks the pond that he dug. It even has its own waterfall."
The restaurant demonstrates how large logs can create a lodge-like atmosphere that patrons cozy up to. The building combines a half-log wall system with big, hand-peeled log posts and trusses. "Some of the posts are up to 2 feet in diameter," Stan says.
To build the restaurant, Jamie chose D.K. Construction of Beecher, Illinois, which has built most of the log homes in the area. Construction took about nine months.
After the log posts were in place, Jamie had bears, eagles and impish faces carved into them with a chain saw. He also scoured the region for antiques and vintage collectible items to decorate the place. Later, he bought some stuffed game animals from a taxidermist to complete the north woods theme.
At 15,000 square feet, this Northwoods Hearty Home Cookin' is one of the biggest restaurants in northwest Indiana. It features live music on weekends and has a loft with a fireplace for private parties.
The menu mixes Jamie's grandmother's favorites with other upper-Wisconsin treats. Appetizer highlights are Weasel Tails (chicken strips with crunchy jalapeno and cheddar breading, deep friend then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with sour cream garlic chive dressing) and Big Barn Pancakes (potato pancakes, pan fried till crispy, then served with the sour cream garlic chive dressing and applesauce). Fish dishes featured lake perch, walleye, shrimp and salmon. Topping the sandwich offerings is bratwurst, slow cooked in Leinenkugel's Northwoods Lager Beer, then dressed with grilled onions, sautéed peppers and mustard. Full-course dinners include pot roast, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and an array of steaks, chops and chicken.
Two noteworthy desserts are Chocolate Carmel Moose Pie (creamy truffle and chocolate mousse atop a chocolate graham cracker crust, topped with chocolate-drizzled caramel and chocolate) and Apple Bavarian Tart (vanilla crumb crust with apples, brown sugar, and butter sauce with a hint of almond).
The appetizing food and the woodsy décor combine to create a home-style hospitality that has made the restaurant a popular attraction. Certainly, the log-lodge look goes a long way toward making visits unforgettable.
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