To get the full story on Moose Jaw Junction, you have to take a trip back in time.
In the late 1860s, Kevin Kruzel’s greatgreat grandfather, Valentine Schlosser, found his way to Northern Michigan. It was just after the Civil War and Schlosser had gone through a traumatic time, losing his right hand during the Battle of Piedmont. Michigan seemed like a nice, peaceful place to be.
Schlosser had a son, Edwin, who married Matilda Lark, the daughter of the founder of Larks Lake, Michigan.
Edwin and Matilda eventually had a son, Arthur, who grew up working with his father in the nearby Moose Jaw Lumber Camp. Arthur, in his later years, would become grandfather to Kevin Kruzel.
So when it came time for Kruzel to take over a restaurant/bar in the Larks Lake community near Pellston, he knew it would be fitting to name the restaurant Moose Jaw Junction, after the lumber camp that had played such a role in his family history.
RUSTIC BUT FRIENDLY
“The original bar was actually opened in 1946,” Kruzel explains. “It was named Round Lake Bar and Larks Lake Bar before it became Moose Jaw Junction.”
Kruzel grew up just a few miles from the original bar, in the same Larks Lake location, and frequented it often.
“I was in management with La Senorita Restaurants for many years, after working for Pepsi in management for a time, and I needed to get back into the food business,” Kruzel says. “And the location was fitting.”
Kruzel purchased the bar in 1999, and continued expanding its small-town, homegrown legacy.
While Moose Jaw Junction is well off of the beaten path for most travelers, those more willing to seek it out will find a genuine slice of rustic Up North appeal. “We seem to draw from all over,” Kruzel chuckles. “We have a family-friendly atmosphere, and strong local flavor.”
SPORTS AND SHRIMP
Part of the draw is probably the welcome mat that Moose Jaw sets out for the sporting types among its customers. They offer a softball league with a field right next door, and are located on the ATV and snowmobile trails. But the rest of the bar/ restaurant’s appeal is in the menu.
“I really feel we offer a great menu with reasonable prices,” Kruzel says. “We offer burgers with fresh ground meat from the local meat market, a Friday Fish Fry to die for, and great shrimp and ribs on Saturdays.”
The fish fry, a popular staple of Moose Jaw Junction, features battered cod served with fries, cole slaw, and a roll, but you’d better get there early if you want a seat - at $11.95 all-you-can-eat, the fish fry is often packed to the gills - pun intended.
But that’s only one component of the Moose Jaw menu.
“My favorite item on the menu is actually our sizzling fajitas, either steak or chicken,” Kruzel enthuses.
WRAPS TO WHITEFISH
Appetizers from battered mushrooms to hot wings to “Boscos” (breadsticks with mozzarella and marinara) set you up for your salad choices - the Black n’ Bleu Salad with romaine, bacon, steak, and crumbled bleu cheese and the classic Caesar being just two choices.
“Northern Style Chili” is offered alongside ever-changing soups of the day, sandwiches range from the Moose Jaw Club (a BLT and cheeseburger all in one) to the Buffalo Chicken Wrap, and entrees include a halfdozen burger choices, broiled whitefish, parmesan shrimp, the Moose Jaw rib eye steak, and even several choices of pizzas and Mexican entrees.
Moose Jaw is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner; all of their menu and daily specials can be found on their website if you’d like to take a peek ahead of your visit.
It’s hearty food for adventurous road warriors, who will be rewarded with big portions and local conversation in an atmosphere that could just as easily be found in Marquette - or on the old small-town-inthe-wilderness TV show “Northern Exposure” - as it is near Pellston.
“Really, we are an Upper Peninsula restaurant in the middle of (lower) Northern Michigan,” Kruzel explains.
Moose Jaw Junction is located at 966 W. Van Road in Pellston, phone 231- 539-8528. They may be found online at www.moosejawjunction.com.