Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with three of the four owners of the new Ox Lake Tavern to get the backstory and the vision. After hearing rumblings about the The Bourbon room coming on the market, Katheryn and Corey Palmer, Dan Terry, and Tiffany Hammer came up with a plan to purchase it and bring back The Ox Lake Tavern. Prior to The Bourbon Room which opened its doors in 2013, the building was called The Ox Lake Tavern. Everyone in the area was familiar with “The Ox.” As Katheryn said: “It has always been The Ox Lake Tavern to me.” There was no question, after the purchase, the old name was coming back, but with an updated vision.
The new/old Ox Lake Tavern is a place to relax and unwind like it always has been. The menu includes staples such as burgers, fried chicken, pork tenderloin and meatball sandwiches. You can get your favorite beer there too and play pool or watch the game: think flannel. What’s new is that The Ox is now your go-to for craft cocktails and unique small plates. A signature cocktail is their Manhattan, but they serve them all, from New York sours to the bubbly libations. Small plates include deviled eggs and shrimp, Swedish meatballs, Soba, feta dip, mahi tacos, gyro bites, calamari, and chips with homemade guac. The new Ox Tavern has a loungey feel replete with couches and comfortable seating. Think filagree.
At first a person might wonder how a business can pull off the combination of bougie and basic or flannel and filigree, but when you think about the Whitefish Chain area, who doesn’t want to pull up to the Ox Lake Tavern in their flannel or after boating all day and be able to enjoy a good quality drink (such as an espresso martini), eat something you can’t find at the other local spots and still kick back to watch the big game? I didn’t even mention that live music will be a regular feature of your visit.
Corey and Katheryn also own The Wharf, which means they are going to be very busy people in the upcoming months. When asked about challenges, Katheryn mentioned trying to find balance, which is difficult when the summer months provide the bulk of income for hospitality venues in this area. The couple assured me that The Wharf will always be The Wharf (Katheryn’s family has owned the Wharf snice 1988). And even though The Wharf is a big enough job to run on its own, the couple and their partners couldn’t resist bringing back The Ox Lake Tavern but adding a twist of their own to stand out from other eateries in the area. Corey’s mission is to make The Ox everyone’s destination to enjoy sports, unique food and drink and live music. I was treated to one of their Manhattans before departing, and I plan to return to sample more with all of my friends in tow.
Note: I’d like to give credit to a podcast called: “Listen Local” hosted by Isaiah Moengen – he interviewed Katheryn and Corey Palmer and I gained a lot of information from that podcast for this blog.