In 1933 when the door closed on Prohibition, Harold “Spike” MacNeven flung his wide open and put out the welcome mat at a Grayling institution that’s been pouring drinks for almost 80 years.
Spike’s Keg O Nails is a classic Up North joint where you can kick back and enjoy a reasonably-priced meal and an adult beverage. Nothing fancy—in fact the menu states “Wet Waders Welcome” in reference to the fly fishing crowd that flocks to Grayling.
I was there in January (when snowmobilers are welcomed) and after a snowshoe hike at Hartwick Pines State Park I headed to the “Meeting Place of the North” for a quick bite before a movie at the classic Rialto theater a couple of blocks away on Main Street.
It was early so I had my choice of tables and settled into a wooden booth, marred with layers of carved initials.
I didn’t have my 1-1/2″ Swiss Army keychain/nail file/knife (confiscated by TSA) but Spike’s strikes me as the kind of place where the guy at the next table—maybe even the waitress—would whip out a loaner blade if I’d wanted to leave my mark on the landscape.
Instead I surveyed the menu of soup and chili, handful of sandwiches, couple of salads, nachos, smelt basket, and deep fried munchies.
But I was there for the Famous Spikeburger, a 1/3-pounder simply topped with mustard, ketchup, pickle and onion. A huge, delish burger worthy of its “world famous” claim and fries, washed down with a beer in a—what else—keg shaped mug.
By the time I left the crowd had started to fill the place—families, sledders, locals, passers-by. Spike’s is on busy Business Loop I-75 so anyone heading through town or on the way to/from Traverse City drives right by the low-slung log building.
Next time, brake for good food and friendly service in a setting that’s rustic and unpretentious. Just like Grayling.
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