Family Owned, Community Tradition
Pier Restaurant has been family-owned for three generations, and food has been served on this corner since 1937. The Pier Plaza restaurant built in 1970 had a big long counter. It was very community driven – families, fishing people, and the coffee clutch congregated here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. More than just a restaurant, it was a duty to serve the community, acting as a cafeteria for the workforce and sometimes even referred to by locals as “the pier café.” Just about everyone in the local community from ages 14-85 had worked on this corner.
Jumping forward to 1999, the industries sustaining the area had changed from charter fishing to tourism, and the permanent resident population had shrunk. The new layout of the restaurant was designed to adapt to the changing times. It featured more of an enhanced experience of food, service, and atmosphere that tourists would appreciate and enjoy. While the coffee clutch still gathered, the new Pier Plaza was no longer simply a cafeteria but a full dining experience. Nonetheless, the Pier Plaza of today is still a gathering place for the community, is part and parcel of the history and fabric of the Bayfield community, and features the same renowned views of Lake Superior.
Today, visitors can enjoy a meal with the area’s best view overlooking Lake Superior in the Pier Plaza Restaurant, relax with a cocktail in Pier Plaza’s ”Pickled Herring” Lounge, then wind down in one of Pier Plaza Hotel’s luxurious whirlpool suites.
The History of Pier Plaza
Established by Gonia Brothers
The Gonia brothers had a log cabin at the current location. It was a trolling headquarters, featuring box lunches and ice for keeping fish.
Became an A&W, but was also still the trolling headquarters.
Johnsons Purchase with Partner
John Johnson’s mom and dad bought the trolling headquarters with John and Mary Hauser.
Johnsons Take Full Ownership
John Johnson’s mom and dad bought it out entirely.
Diner-Style Restaurant Built
John’s mom and dad’s plans to build a new A&W were rejected because Bayfield did not allow chains. Instead they built a new family diner style restaurant. They named it Pier Plaza. It was a family diner, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They had fresh bakery and the infamous rock table – a table set in the corner of the building where the coffee clutch congregated. They were open 5am-10pm 364 days a year.
John and Sharon bought the lodging right next door to the Pier Plaza Restaurant.
Lodging next door was named Bayfront Inn.
Current Building Built
Current Pier Plaza Restaurant building was built. See details below. The old lounge location inside the restaurant was originally a handicapped lodging room.
Pickled Herring Lounge Opened
Pickled Herring Lounge opened.
Pier Plaza Name Adopted
Pier Plaza name adopted to represent all three businesses: Pier Hotel, Pier Restaurant, and Pier Lounge.