The Golden Frog at 112 North Shore Drive in Fountain City was built in 1878 by William Kruer. A large tin replica of a frog was hung over the entrance, and according to the Peter Schoenhofen’s booklet of 1911, the saloon keeper and builder had golden-red hair, hence the name “Zum Goldenen Frosch.”
Around 1904, the business and building was sold to Albert Kuehl. Kuehl, who had come to America from Germany in the late 1800s and first worked as a carpenter in Fountain City, owned and operated the Golden Frog until his death in 1937. According to a Winona Daily News article from March 4, 1962, the Golden Frog was a favorite stopping place during the logging days. Later, when farmers from the ridge drove their cattle down to Fountain City for shipping by boat, they cashed their checks at the Golden Frog, and still later, men working on the Mississippi River dams did too. Kuehl had a teller’s cage set up just inside the door of the tavern for this purpose.
The establishment was rented to various parties after Mr. Kuehl’s death, until it was sold in 1954 to Fred Klingseisen, also a native of Germany. The new owner found that Kuehl had maintained an authentic German beer garden on the north side of the tavern, and had operated a duck pin bowling alley. He enlarged the barroom by enclosing the beer garden area and gradually added more dining space. Mr. Klingseisen, who cooked in a hotel in Munich, Germany, and later had a bakery in Milwaukee, was the chef. Mr. Klingseisen, with his wife and daughter and son-in-law Anne and Tom Flood, began serving food in 1955 and expanded the space to three dining rooms. The place became well-known for its daily specials, especially Italian spaghetti and prime rib. It was also well-known for Tom Flood’s vocal solos as he tended bar.
The Floods sold the popular supper club in 1978 to Sue Emmons, who ran it for a number of years. After Sue Emmons, the Golden Frog was owned by a number of individuals until the current owners Ross Patzner and Sarah Hemker, purchased the business in March 2014.