Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the legs have it

A true family business is hard to find these days.  The Legs Inn is one, and it's an amazing place to boot.  George Smolak's uncle Stan, also known as Chief White Cloud, started working on it soon after he arrived from Poland  in 1913 (at the time it was part of Austria.)  He was a man who could take elements of nature and create very cool furniture and distinctive decoration from them. His little bar and grill in Cross Village soon began to feature booths, tables and chairs he made, as well as tasty Polish fare and libations.  The collision of Native American images and Eastern European traditions helps account for its striking originality.  And as for the name, well, those white appliance legs on the roof made it easy to spot.
These days the Smolak kids, Mark and Chris, help make the Legs a growing concern--open only from mid-May to late October.  There's a regular Sunday night blues band, and five secluded cabins for rent in the woods near Lake Michigan.  Other than that, it's just a great off the beaten path roadhouse with pierogies and kielbasa and room after room of great folk art.  When it's busy, "no one ever complains about the wait," George told us.
We worked our way out to the Legs after a slow morning in Cheboygan, where Main Street is undergoing major rehab work.  It's so torn up that the best route to the coffee shop we wanted to visit was through a furniture store's "interior sidewalk."  Walking amidst the workmen and machinery made the whole experience more than a little surreal.  Kudos to State Street Coffee for brewing a darned good cup!
The van's starting to get awfully damn full, and stops like Seashell City a few miles down I-75 don't help at all.  It's the place that promises a "man-eating clam" on the billboards.  We weren't fooled, but that didn't preclude some awfully silly poses on the pirate ship out front, and more cheesy souvenir purchases.  Don's pirate clock for $5 seems like a steal.... 

Music In the Van-- Norah Jones, "Blue Train" John Coltrane
Don's found $$ count--11 cents  (no good stats since Mother's Day)

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