J R’s Bar & Grill

120 N Main St
Big Falls, 54926
Interesting fact: Big Falls is the smallest incorporated village in the state of Wisconsin. I did not know that until I found myself working on a new project there. In the process I learned more about the history of Big Falls than probably most. Did you know that the first sawmill, Whitcomb's, was built in 1887 and that in 1895 it was sold and the larger Wall-Spalding mill constructed? Either did I until I started work on this site. I don't know for certain when JR's Bar and Grill was constructed, but I do know that the establishment is exactly what you would look for in a Northwoods bar. Here's how I figured this bit of trivia out: Although I knew a good deal about the Big Falls through all of my prior research I had not ever been remotely near the place until a summer afternoon when I was the only available person to go and meet with the surveyor on site. The project was way behind schedule and the surveyor was having difficulties on site. I left early in the morning and arrived in town around 9, then walked out into the wooded lot to get everything nailed down. It quickly grew hot and sticky even in the shade of the trees, and the terrain was difficult to navigate in the underbrush. Four hours later everything was in place, and I was famished and thirsty. I hadn't planned on being in Big Falls for more than fifteen minutes let alone four hours, so lunch hadn't been a concern. Now weak with hunger, I hoped that the smallest incorporated village in Wisconsin would have somewhere, anywhere, to get something to eat. I crossed the Little Wolf River and drove down Main Street slowly, surveying my options. Main Street extended about three or four blocks then became County Road C again. The trip took about 45 seconds. I turned around and came back up the street, and this was when I noticed JR's. The sign said "Bar & Grill" so I parked on the street and walked on in. Coming through the front door the four or five regulars on the bar stools turned and gave me a stare, an uncomfortable first impression but entirely expected at a place like this. I grabbed a seat at the bar and the bartender came over my way. I don't normally drink on the clock, but my throat was exceedingly dry and when he asked what I'd have I found myself ordering a can of Bud. There was one or two taps, both Miller, and I didn't have the courage or patience to see if he had any bottles of Spotted or other local micro in the fridge. As he grabbed a can from the cooler I took a look around. JR's had definitely been renovated fairly recently. The walls were done up with wood paneling and several bucks were mounted on the wall, impressive racks to my untrained eye. There appeared to be a few pool tables to the back and a jukebox and dartboard near the side entrance. The bartender came back with my beer and asked if I was interested in anything to eat, proffering a small menu. The ice-cold Bud quickly vanquished the dust in my throat and rejuvenated my sagging spirits and I took a quick glimpse at the menu. The menu was comprised of standard bar food, burgers and fries with a few other sandwiches. After a quick once-over I nodded his way and ordered a cheeseburger with fries. He walked back to the grill and started on the order right away. He came back out and asked if I would like tartar sauce with my fries, a question that I can say I've never fielded before. He explained that the tartar sauce was a local specialty and most people had it with their fries. "Sure - when in Rome, right?" was my reply as I drained the can of Bud. The bartender smiled as he grabbed me another, and now JR's was becoming a friendlier place. The burger and fries came out pretty quickly. The burger was a square patty, somewhat thin and pretty standard. The bartender asked if I'd like any pickles. Normally I don't but his offer sounded inexplicably good, and he brought out a Tupperware container of pickle chips for me to select from. The burger, dressed modestly with American cheese and pickles, was delicious. The crinkle-cut fries went very well with the tartar sauce. I probably would have figured that out sooner if I ever ordered Friday fish fry, but I was pleasantly surprised. After I finished eating the bartender came over and inquired as to my reason for being in Big Falls, and he was excited to hear about the news. Turns out his patrons could only sometimes get a signal on their phones when standing in a certain spot in the middle of Main Street. Well, I fixed that problem for them later on that year. JR's is the kind of place that lives on in my memories as a great experience - friendly (after a bit) bartender, fulfilling lunch, cold beer. I'm positive that if I had the exact same experience in Madison I'd have left vowing to never return, but it's a different state of mind up in the Northwoods, and you're not going to get fancy burgers and a big row of micro taps in the smallest incorporated village in Wisconsin.

(715) 754-5366

Bars, American (Traditional)

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