The Buckhorn Cafe was located at some unspecified location on Highway 12 in Long Lake. Judging from the ad below from 1947, I thought for sure there must have been some music – some cowboy music? [This is not to be confused with the Buckhorn Tavern at 2701 E. 25th Street, or the Buckhorn Inn between Stillwater and Hudson, which sounds like it was a lot more fun.]
As it was located out of town, the Buckhorn was forced to close for the duration of World War II. Staff and customers were away at war or unable to get gas, tires, etc. for their cars. It reopened in November 1945.
So I looked and looked and looked but it turns out that it was “just” a restaurant and a four-lane bowling alley. From one source it computes that it was started in 1931 by Clifford “Kipp” Hale and silent partner Garnet Hale. Kipp had many collections, including animal heads, horns, mounted animals, and antique guns. And in this atmosphere is where you ate your “Chicken in the Rough,” an innovation that sounds like just fried chicken you eat with your hands.
BUFFALO HUNTS IN LONG LAKE
Kipp also collected buffaloes – real buffaloes – that had a habit of getting loose from their pens, in which case they were shot and eaten. Poor Hattie. In a 1952 column, George Grimm described this phenomenon:
Most folks know Long Lake because of three buffalo in back of Hap Hale’s Buckhorn Restaurant and recreation center. Two winters ago the buffalo decided to skip the fences and took off. People kept opening garage doors to find a buffalo inside. One train was raced by one of the critters (the train lost), and a national magazine took up Long Lake’s buffalo hunt story. The trio finally was corralled again.
Corralling the beasts was done by hired cowboys on horseback, with the entire town watching. It is unclear whether he brought in the buffaloes for publicity or for the meat, or both.
THE BUCKHORN CLUB
Kipp wanted to retire and advertised the place for sale in 1961. He kept his collections in the building, however.
On March 18, 1972, the Buckhorn Cafe burned to the ground, destroying his collection of 75 guns. The fire took the departments of Long Lake, Maple Plain, Wayzata, and Mound four hours to put out.
Within two weeks, the owner, Charles L. “Buck” Kramer, reopened the Buckhorn in a new location. The former tractor and farm implement shop at 2365 W. Wayzata Blvd. was ready in record time. Kramer changed the name to the Buckhorn Club, and installed a rock band (aha!), lingerie show, and topless dancers. By June 1974 the IRS was after him for underwithholding workers’ taxes, and in September 1975 he sold it to Gil and Patricia Carmichael.
The last we see of the Buckhorn Club is in 1977 when the City Council of Long Lake got tired of the nudity and the bad reputation it was giving the city, so it was considering cracking down on them.