A Restaurant With Goats On The Roof

Apr 24, 2015 1 comments

Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik is a family owned, casual dining restaurant in the village of Sister Bay in Door County, Wisconsin, United States. The restaurant is known for its authentic Swedish cuisine and Scandinavian experience, but it is more commonly known for its sod covered roof where goats graze. Sod roofs or grass roofs are traditionally found in Scandinavian countries where the gently sloping wooden roof boards are covered with a layer of sod and grass, and is part of the Scandinavian experience Al Johnson's tries to deliver. The addition of goats give it a unique touch.

Inside the casual, carpeted dining room, furnished with paintings, a massive stone fireplace, and wooden furniture, young ladies dressed in Scandinavian outfits serve food. The menu consists of a variety of Swedish fare, from pancakes with lingonberries to Swedish meatballs, whitefish, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of hot and cold plates.


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Al Johnson's started as a little restaurant back in 1949 called Al's Home Cooking. The restaurant reached its present form in 1973 when Al Johnson renovated the restaurant by importing wooden logs from a building in Norway and added a sod roof. Al's wife, Ingert changed the interior by keeping a Scandinavian design, so that the place would be traditional, and it was her idea to add a gift shop, called the Butik so that while waiting to be seated, people could browse the Scandinavian gifts. After the renovation was complete, Winky Larson, Al's best friend brought him a goat named Oscar as a joke, and someone decided to jokingly put Oscar on the roof. The goat caught the attention of passersby, inspiring the family to get more goats and put them on the roof.

Thanks to the goats, the restaurant is today one of the top-grossing in Wisconsin. The goats were so popular and such a draw that Al Johnson decided to trademark the idea in 1996. Now Al Johnson goes after any business that attempts to lure customers by putting goats on the roof.


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Sources: Roadside America / Wikipedia / www.aljohnsons.com


  1. How awesome is this!? My mom had goats in our yard, so I know how much they love climbing and getting on the roof. I think it's really cool that the roofing has grass on it. I've seen roofs topped with greenery before, and I seriously hope it catches on. It would be such a great way to make a small step in being more eco-friendly, not to mention plants and green things are more beautiful than slate and blank walls :)


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