Approaching the Coyote Roadhouse in the high summer season, you are likely to see cars filling the lot, parked amongst the trees and lined up along the roadside. Walk in the door and the place is hopping. Bar stools are occupied, booths are filled with families, friends are mingling at tables on the porch overlooking Kangaroo Lake, and several children are testing the rope swing in the big tree on the lawn.
Amidst the activity, Warren, one of the owners, is jotting down a customer order and Chad is laughing with a group of locals that he is serving at the bar. The atmosphere is upbeat and lighthearted. Good energy abounds. It’s the kind of feeling you get when you hang out with a close friend: comfortable camaraderie without pretense. The Coyote Roadhouse is a place where people come together and get to know one another. With that, it has become a year round destination for many Door County visitors, and an established local favorite.
To get a sense of the establishment’s history, look closely at the wall behind the bar. There you will see names of past patrons literally carved into the grain. The boards you are looking at, as well as the stone wall at the Coyote Roadhouse entrance, were originally part of a building located on the grounds of what is now Peninsula State Park. As the story goes, in the 1920s and ‘30s this building was a private residence and club, and a place for good times among friends during Prohibition when public consumption was not an option.
The building was sold in the 1940s and moved to its current spot on the shores of Kangaroo Lake. Over time, there were several transfers of ownership and changes in name. Loyal customers will tell you how the place was once only large enough to accommodate seven bar stools and a pinball machine. Of course, if you wanted to watch TV, the owners would welcome you into their connected residence for a seat on the living room couch. Less like a bar and more like hanging out at your friend’s house, you knew everyone there and you always had a great time.
Multiple remodels and expansions have transformed the once small beer-bar into a full-service restaurant. Current owners include Warren and Carole Groth and Darlene Bailey, as well as other private investors. They purchased the restaurant five years ago, following a one year shut-down. In their work to rebuild the business, this team recognized the importance of the locale’s vibe to the overall integrity of their operation. Impressive because they are not trying to impress anyone, the Coyote Roadhouse simply is what it is, and that’s precisely why so many visitors love it.
Dining selections at the Coyote Roadhouse reflect its no-nonsense demeanor. The menu is printed on your placemat, and there you will see a broad offering of favorites, from burgers to jambalaya, pork chops to quesadillas, and rack of ribs to heaping salad. None of the descriptions will leave you stumped for pronunciation, but you are guaranteed to find selections with a unique flair in their preparation.
100% Angus Beef Burgers can be ordered “plain and delicious” or covered with bleu cheese and fresh mushrooms. Barbequed baked beans are offered as an option to French fries. A generous appetizer of French fried onion rings are shredded fine and prepared in a loaf pan. Creative sandwich options include the “Porta,” with portabella mushrooms, spinach and Swiss cheese grilled on rye, or the herb-marinated “Prairie Chicken” with chipotle mayo.
With its dinner options, the Coyote Roadhouse truly sets itself apart. Local favorites include the “Chop,” an eight-ounce broiled pork chop topped with gravy. For a real treat, order a full rack of the Coyote’s legendary BBQ Baby Back Ribs. Slow-cooked throughout the day in a savory trademark barbeque sauce, the tender meat will fall from the bone.
You won’t leave hungry. You won’t leave broke. But chances are, you will leave with a sense that you understand just a little bit more about what life in Door County is really like. Memories are created here. Friendships are established. Glasses are raised. Laughter and good energy abound.
Coyote Roadhouse is open year round and is therefore a favorite among winter sports enthusiasts. Even more fun when the summer crowds subside, stop in after a day of snowmobiling or cross-country skiing for a warm drink and a hearty meal.
Coyote Roadhouse is located at 3026 County E in Baileys Harbor, a five-minute drive from the center of Baileys Harbor. You find it on the shores of Kangaroo Lake, at the west end of the causeway that is so popular among fishermen. Open for lunch and dinner. Telephone is (920) 839-9192.