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Sugar Bowl: A Sweetheart of a Restaurant

Len Barnes - January 27th, 2005
Now in its 85th year, the Sugar Bowl in Gaylord is one of the state’s oldest family-owned restaurants.
Although its exterior indicates an Alpine or Bavarian theme, the Sugar Bowl’s menu includes Greek and American selections, with such popular choices as ribs, whitefish, perch and prime rib. With a population of 3,681, Gaylord “has a Swiss essence which pervades the community activities throughout the year, with nearly 150 inches of snow on nearby slopes and cross country ski trails, plus the nearby Call of the Wild Museum with more than 150 North American wild animals and game birds displayed”.
This downtown Gaylord business opened in 1919 by George and Harry Doumas whose son now owns it. At age 11, the father immigrated to the US from Greece and came to Gaylord after serving in the military as a sergeant and personal cook under General John Pershing in New Mexico during the search for Mexican bandit Pancho Villa.
At the time, the name “Sugar Bowl” was given to many places where ice cream and candy were sold. They were the central meeting places for teens as in the old nationally syndicated comic strip “Harold Teen”. Through the years, the homemade ice cream and candies became too expensive to make and most “Sugar Bowls” closed or changed their names, but Gaylord’s remained with light lunches, sandwiches, beer and wine served after prohibition ended. A liquor license was added in 1947 and the menu was changed as guests made requests.
All that remains of the original building in the original location is the west wall of the family dining room. The present building, banquet facilities included, has had 11 major changes. Today, it seats more than 400 patrons. The current owner is Robert H. Doumas.
Six breakfast specials at the Sugar Bowl range from “Old Faithful,” two eggs, two strips of bacon or sausage and toast at $3.99; to those including homemade corned beef hash, French toast, or eggs benedict. There’s also an Atkins special at $4.25.
Lunch includes Chef’s Choice dishes such as Spinach Sunrise (fresh spinach, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, cheese, dressings, pita bread) at $6.75, and spaghetti with garlic toast at $6.50. Twelve Signature Sandwiches run from chicken salad at $5.95 to a triple decker Reuben with slow roasted corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, grilled on pumpernickel at $7.75.
For dinner, six appetizers include flaming cheese Saganaki of Athens, $5.25; shrimp cocktail, $11.95; and calamari at $6.95. Three soups include Greek style lemon-rice, $2.50 and French Onion with garlic toast at $4.95. There’s also a choice of five salads, four burgers and four pita wraps. Four senior menus for persons over 60 offer a choice of soup or salad, vegetable, rolls, beef liver, turkey and meat loaf at $6.95.
Then there are the dinner chef’s suggestions with 12 in all, including soup or juice, salad bar or Caesar or Greek, potato, vegetable and home baked bread. Selections include a 16 oz. T-bone steak, $23.95; chicken breast, $16.95; veal Marsala, back ribs, $18.95; whitefish, perch, walleye, shrimp, $19.95; prime rib, $19.95-$23.95; pork chops, $16.95; strip sirloin, $25.95; rack of lamb, $24.95; and filet mignon $22.95-$26.95.
I liked the short ribs, served often today, at $8.99.
I’ve been coming to the Sugar Bowl for many years, usually at the time of the Alpenfest which features yodeling, carnival rides, free tasting of German food, ice cream socials, magic shows, and people wearing dirndls and lederhosen in the streets.

The Sugar Bowl Restaurant is located at 216 West Main Street in downtown Gaylord,
984-732-5524. Breakfast, 7 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m.; dinner, 4 p.m.; main dining room, 5:30 p.m.



 
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