Hollywood Spoils Little Bohemia

We saw Public Enemies last week, our one venture to the movies all summer. It was the 7:00 show and the theater was packed. It was also filthy. Spilled popcorn and snack wrappers littered the floor and clearly, the high traffic for this show had taken its smelly toll.

This made me wonder: Can the Northwoods handle Hollywood success?

Public Enemies, starring Johhny Depp, was not a winner for me. I had hoped it would be more of an inside look at the life of the notorious gangster, John Dillinger—particularly because of the talents of the man portraying him. But no. It wasn’t much more than two hours of machine guns blasting. And because all the trench coats and “Cagney” hats looked the same, I had a hard time distinguishing which characters were the public enemies and which were the public servants.

In my uncomfortable seat, I spent most of my viewing time waiting for the scenes shot at Little Bohemia, a restaurant located in Manitowish Waters. I had eaten there many times prior to the release of the film on July 1, 2009, viewed the preserved bullet holes in the windows, and read the yellowed newspaper articles about the shootout there in 1934. Last spring, “Little Bo’s” menu got an overhaul and I made the 45-minute drive there twice, just to eat the best walleye I’ve ever had in the Northwoods.

Being a resort owner, I am asked daily by our guests where they should go out to dinner. This year, without reservation, I have suggested they make the drive up to Little Bohemia, to experience the atmosphere and the fantastic food. I make the recommendation with such passion, that almost EVERYONE goes.

Last night, we took a visiting friend there, expecting a wonderful evening out. Unfortunately, Little Bohemia fell far short of our expectations.

First of all, our table wasn’t ready at our reservation time. And then, the surly hostess seated us right next to the constant swinging doors of the kitchen and the waiter’s station. We asked to be moved and it was as if we had asked for a free meal. She reluctantly moved us to a table across the room and then we were ignored. Wait and bus staff folded napkins and set tables all around us, but no waiter or waitress would even look in our direction. All the indifferent hostess had to say was, “Someone will be right with you,” and it would have been fine. But she couldn’t have cared less.

Finally, our waitress, who failed to give us her name OR smile, was highly unpleasant. The Coke’s were flat. Twice. My salad tasted like Styrofoam and I was brought the wrong dressing. The appetizer of sour creamed egg whites was inedible. My daughter’s ‘medium rare’ steak was still “mooing” and had to be sent back.

The good news is that the walleye was still delicious. It was the best part of the experience—similar to Johnny Depp being the best part of
Public Enemies.

My guess is Little Bohemia is experiencing mid-season burnout. The wait staff seems to resent their success more than they appreciate it. Clearly, they’re tired of the onslaught of tourists, and even though it wasn’t particularly crowded when we got there, they had no desire to act the role of accommodating public servants.

In spite of how much business we’ve sent them week after week, we didn’t mention it, nor did we expect any special treatment. Regardless, we certainly didn’t expect to be treated like public enemies. We were just hoping to have a nice evening out and ended up doing research for the concierge portion of our job.

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So, this morning when asked where to go out to dinner, I recommended the families staying in two of our cabins skip the drive up to Manitowish Waters tonight, and instead go to
Mama’s Supper Club. It’s close by and ALWAYS a winner.

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