There’s something wonderful about visiting Door County for the 10th or 20th or even 30th year, watching the numerous exit signs of Green Bay slowly morph into a wall of evergreens and birch trees. And there’s something magical that keeps families and generations heading north to the peninsula: tradition.
Although Door County is going through an exciting evolution of new places, faces and concepts, there’s something very nostalgic and inviting about Mr. G’s Logan Creek Grille. Just ask the generations of Door County visitors and residents whom Bob Geitner’s family has served over the decades.
His grandparents owned Geitner’s Cottages on the “quiet side” of the peninsula. Those cottages then turned into Birmingham’s Bar on Bayshore Drive.
“My mom, Lorraine; and dad, Bob, owned the popular bar, and then owned the Nightingale restaurant in Sturgeon Bay,” Geitner said. “I was pretty much raised there, and then went off to college.”
He returned home to work alongside his sister and brother-in-law when his parents purchased Mr. G’s and the then-dilapidated Fernwood Gardens Ballroom in the early ’70s.
“The ballroom was quite the place in the day,” Geitner said. “Entertainers such as Frank Sinatra Jr. and the Glenn Miller Orchestra really had the place going.”
Geitner described musicians standing on speakers, blowing their horns, with the place packed with 500-900 people. “We had the place rockin’,” he said.
And the place continued to rock with weddings and events year after year until Geitner and his wife, Mary, experienced something in 2020 that had never happened before.
“We closed our doors last year due to COVID,” Geitner said. “We just couldn’t bring ourselves to expose our wonderful staff. Many have been with us for so long that we didn’t want to risk it. But we are ready to get back to it.”
And people will return to Mr. G’s for the same reasons they’ve always sought it out and then returned: great food created with classic recipes.
“Mary learned to cook after teaching for seven years at Gibraltar,” Geitner said. “They keep coming back for her homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce, and of course, her famous ribs.”
He also raved about his mom’s recipe for pan-fried whitefish and pan-fried perch.
“Nobody made it like my mom,” he said. “Most do deep fried, but this was something special, and we still do it like she did back in the day.”
With Geitner running the bar and handling the marketing, and Mary cooking with the staff in the back, the food and friendships are truly important to the experience. And now, after 30 years, what’s next?
“We are getting older, but we aren’t done yet,” Geitner said, though he’s put some thought into the day when he and Mary will move on.
“I love the people, love the psychology of talking with everyone who comes to Mr. G’s,” he said.
Mary shared similar thoughts: “I will miss all the people I’ve worked with and pleased the customers and friends who have made us an honored tradition in Door County.”
That day is still far off, however. The Geitners are hoping to open their doors again on May 1 – just Fridays and Saturdays to start, but with extended hours as the season goes on. They’re excited to see familiar faces return.
“There is nothing better than seeing someone truly enjoy what you have prepared for them,” Mary said.