The Palace Saloon is truly a Soo establishment, opening for the first time over a century ago. The restaurant has seen some changes over the decades, switching hands and even looks, but what has always remained the same is the Palace Saloon’s amazing food, drinks and its commitment to the local community.
Today, the Palace Saloon is a member of the Sault Area Chamber of Commerce and does all it can to support the community and its local residents and organizations. From sponsoring little league baseball teams and sponsoring numerous charities throughout the year to hosting service organizations at the restaurant, the Palace Saloon’s staff shows its appreciation for its customers and community in a variety of ways.
That tradition of community commitment started with the opening of the Northwest Hotel in 1903 by business owner Sam Kokko. Previous to the hotel and bar’s opening, the property had been a wooden structure housing a paint shop, which was purchased from James Martin and William Field for a total of $2,750. Kokko ran the business for ten years until his death, and then for three years it was managed by a number of business partners. When Sam Kokko’s children were old enough to obtain the liquor license they took back control of the bar, managing it as a family business for many years. Elizabeth Kokko, Sam’s widow, also managed the hotel side of things for many years.
The Northwest Hotel’s name was changed to the Brunswick in the 1930s after Sam and Elizabeth Kokko’s son, Sam, returned to the Sault area following a career in hockey. Taking control of the business, he renamed it the Brunswick in honor of The Brunswick Company which had built the front and back bars at the hotel.
At this time a beautiful mahogany bar, detailed with lions’ heads, columns and other ornate decorations served as a centerpiece for the establishment, while Sam’s collection of hockey memorabilia adorned the walls of the restaurant. The Brunswick soon became a favorite spot for hockey players and fans from both sides of the St. Mary’s. And so the Brunswick grew in popularity among customers for years, become a landmark establishment famous for its atmosphere, its staff, and its delicious food and drinks.
Around 40 years ago, the Kokko family finally sold the business to Delmar and Diane Newman, who changed the establishment to its current name, The Palace Saloon. In 1974, the Newmans added an addition to the west side of the building for a new kitchen. It was at this time that the Palace Saloon began to be known for its delicious Mexican cuisine. After only a few short years of owning the business, however, Delmar and Diane Newman sold the business to William Kammers in 1977.
Tragedy struck the Palace Saloon in 1979 when a major fire broke out in the building. The fire, however, was mostly contained to the upper floors of the Palace, and undeterred by the setback Kammers immediately began restoring and renovating the building. Thanks to his commitment and the hard work of those involved, the Palace Saloon reopened that very same year.
In 1981, Bonnie Krempel bought the business and became the restaurant’s fourth owner. Keeping the restaurant’s Mexican menu that customers loved so much, the Palace Saloon continued to grow in popularity among Sault residents and visitors alike. Then in 1999, the business was sold to current owner Goetz Portage Avenue, Ltd. Tammy Goetz Cook manages the restaurant, which continues to be a family business, and under their watch the restaurant celebrated its 100th birthday in 2003.
The Palace Saloon was renovated once again in 2007 with a new façade. Although the Palace Saloon has seen several changes and renovations throughout the last century, some things have never changed. The beautiful mahogany Brunswick bar is still in use, and the caring friendly staff, the delicious Mexican and American food, and the family-oriented business is the same as it has always been.
A landmark restaurant in the Soo, the Palace Saloon is the place to come for a great meal, a date night, or an evening out with the family. You’re sure to walk away with a full stomach and a smile on your face!