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Goat On A Hot Sod Roof? This Restaurant Sports The Most Unusual Roof Maintenance Crew!

goat on roof

It’s pretty nifty when a building has a sod roof, all green and fluffy and unique. What’s even more unique than that? When you use a troop of goats to maintain that sod roof!

It may sound peculiar, but Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin, is famous for just that. For decades, visitors from around the world have flocked to this charming eatery to catch a glimpse of these delightful animals grazing atop the sod roof. 

goats on roof

The tale of goats on the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant dates back many years. According to local writer Norbert Blei, the story began with a man named Wink Larson. Wink was a friend of the restaurant’s owner Al, and had a penchant for giving him unusual birthday gifts. 

One fateful year, Wink surprised Al with a goat named Oscar, done up with ribbons tied to its horns. Little did they know that this seemingly innocent gift would change the course of history for Al Johnson, the village of Sister Bay, and Door County tourism as a whole.

From the moment Oscar the goat set hoof on the restaurant’s rooftop, a new tradition was born. The sight of goats grazing on the sod roof captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Soon, Al Johnson’s became known as “that place with the goats on the roof.” The restaurant’s fame spread far and wide, attracting countless curious travelers who wanted to witness this charming spectacle for themselves.

goat on roof

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant even has two web cameras mounted on its rooftop, offering a live stream of the goats’ daily rooftop activities. You can see the goats from these webcams nearly every day, except during the nighttime when they are safely housed in their barn.

Each day, the caretakers transport the goats to their rooftop grazing grounds. But how do they get up on the roof? A slanted stairway with foot-holds provides a secure path for the goats to ascend to their rooftop pasture. 

how goats get on roof

In an interview before his passing, Al Johnson reflected on the goats’ impact on the restaurant’s patrons. “Our visitors fall in love with the goats and are always so concerned about them, their health, and their safety,” said Lars. “They want to know how they get onto the roof each day, where the goats go each evening when we take them off the roof and load them onto a pickup truck, and whether they can fall off the roof (yes, it’s happened a couple of times, but no one was hurt).”

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and its goats have left an indelible mark on the village of Sister Bay and Door County as a whole. The legacy of these whimsical creatures extends far beyond the restaurant’s walls. The heartfelt laughter and shared experiences they have inspired have become woven into the fabric of the community.

white goat on roof

Al Johnson’s son, Lars, now carries the torch, managing the restaurant alongside his siblings, Rolf and Annika. They continue to nurture the connection between the restaurant, the goats, and the visitors. 

So, if you ever find yourself in Door County, Wisconsin, be sure to visit Al Johnson’s and experience the enchantment of goats on a restaurant’s roof firsthand.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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