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This is the main dining room of Smilin' Moose Lodge Bar & Grill. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)

The North Woods comes to Second Street: Smilin' Moose is open

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When Tom Tomaro and Mike Tupa closed on the purchase of Bob Smith Sports Club on July 1, 2013, they knew they had some “remodeling” to do. Last Friday, they started a two week soft opening of the Smilin' Moose Lodge Bar and Grill. Chances are if you were a regular at the old place, your jaw will drop to the floor when you walk in. As the newest eatery, it will no doubt be added to the already substantial list of special places in Hudson for visitors and residents to dine.

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“We are offering American fare with a lodge flair,” said Tupa. “Comfort food made in our own, from scratch kitchen, including slow roasted pork ribs. We believe in premier bread to complement our entrees as well.”

There are 24 draft beers on tap including imports and craft labels. Up to March 31 visitors will be dining off of a limited menu. As of March 31, the whole menu will be available and it includes breakfast on Saturday and Sunday served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We will also offer fresh Angus burgers,” said Tomaro. Both Tupa and Tomaro are from Stillwater and have been in the restaurant business for some time.

The menu includes wild caught walleye battered in their own Summit Pale Ale beer batter. Comfort plates include pot roast, meat loaf and crusted sirloin. Salads, soup and 14 specialty burgers on the menu means one visit will not be enough for curious diners.

“Our beef is always fresh,” added Tupa. “I am passionate about the food.”

Both owners emphasized the views.

“We knew right from day one that this location would provide views,” said Tupa. “Garage doors were installed in both the east and west ends. Slider patio windows line the south wall.” Customers can also look down Second Street and out to the river on the west side.

“It is on a hill,” said Tomaro. “It is nice that it is a natural elevation. In the summer we can open it all up giving it the feel of a northern resort.”

“We preserved a few hidden gems, items that were saved,” said Tomaro. “We have talked to a lot of people. There is a lot of excitement about the property.”

It will take several visits to absorb the amazing collection of items and various woods that make up the cozy and eclectic atmosphere. From the stone fireplace sporting -- yes, a smiling moose -- to the pecan inlaid arrows above each of the garage doors, there is a lot to take in. Barn wood, white oak, red oak, actual chinked logs and a bar made from one piece of wood all give the place its unique feel.

“We started shopping in July,” said Barb Tomaro, Tom’s wife, whose design sense brought it all together. “We spent a lot of time in antique malls, on e-bay and craigslist searching for items.” There are a few items from the Sport’s club including a framed sample of the flocked wall paper hanging in the entrance and a mirror in the ladies room that found a new frame. From fishing tackle to a real snowmobile and a racing canoe, you need to keep your eyes open. It is a bet that you will see something different every time you visit.

“Every detail was thought out,” said Tomaro. “We went overboard doing it right.”

Through March 30 the Smilin Moose Lodge Bar and Grill will be open daily from 3 p.m. to closing. During that time they will be serving a limited menu. A grand opening is planned for March 31 after which a full menu will be offered. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to closing; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to closing. Call ahead sitting will be available but not reservations. For more information, call (715) 808-8397. Coming soon is the website at www.smilinmoosebar.com.

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