At the corner of County H and Highway 42 within the community of Maplewood sits a cream-bricked building that looks as though it has a few stories to tell.
One of those includes its history as a post office downstairs and a brothel upstairs, though for many years now, it’s been a pub and grill with various names and owners. For the past five years, it has been Johnny G’s Pub & Grill, but the restaurant has now changed hands: As of March 1 of this year, it’s Sierra’s Pub & Grill.
Alexandra Jacobs-Griese and Sam Konitzer are the new owners, with Jacobs-Griese running the bar and Konitzer the kitchen. They’re serving a menu of broasted chicken, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizza and numerous appetizers, with a goal of expanding the dietary options. Currently, they have cauliflower-crust pizza for those who don’t want carbs, along with two deep fryers, one exclusively for fish.
“We kept a lot of similar stuff and added new things,” Jacobs-Griese said. “We’re still working out the menu right now and minimizing it.”
Neither of the new owners is a stranger to the business. Konitzer has worked in kitchens in the past, and Jacobs-Griese has restaurant ownership in her blood, beginning with her great-grandfather, who owned the former Breakwater in Algoma.
The opportunity to own her own restaurant arose late last year. She was already tending bar at the southern Door County pub when the owner told her he was leaving. What started as a thought about taking over turned into a conversation. The next thing they knew, they had the keys to the building, a signed lease and a “new old business.”
The name came easily. Jacobs-Griese had just put down her 15-year-old pit bull, Sierra. During all that time, they’d been apart only twice – while Jacobs-Griese was in basic training for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and during her deployment to Cuba. The name was a way to keep her “heart and soul” always close, she said.
Although they’ve kept some of the menu items, Sierra’s co-owners are interested in growing into a community-minded business known for its events. They’ve already hosted a grand opening, a St. Patrick’s Day event and Easter egg hunts for kids during the day and adults at night. They also have a July Fourth party scheduled for July 2 to coincide with Maplewood’s fireworks.
“I want people to hear ‘Sierra’s’ and get excited,” Jacobs-Griese said. “I also want people to come in and see this is a good place to come for a drink because of the good staff and good food.”
Excitement and a drive to succeed are fueling their plans. They’ve weathered a few initial bumps, but they were able to retain nearly all the previous staff and are ready for their first season.
Maplewood is an unincorporated community within the Town of Forestville – similar to Juddville within the Town of Gibraltar and Carlsville within the Town of Egg Harbor. The pub has its regular customers, and “they are the ones who get us through the winter,” Jacobs-Griese said.
But they’re also hoping to put the place on the map a bit more among motorists who are traveling the scenic route north on Highway 42, which hugs Lake Michigan’s western shore through Algoma before hitting Door County.
“I hope people give us a chance,” Jacobs-Griese said. “We love to meet new people.”
Sierra’s Pub & Grill, S1599 Hwy 42 in Maplewood, is open seven days a week, 11 am until the kitchen closes or business slows.