Root Beer Barrel Michigan

The Root Beer Barrel in Douglas, Michigan, opened in 1952 but sat empty for 25 years. Pam LeBlanc photo

​Hotdogs taste better when you order them from a roadside stand shaped like a giant barrel, as I learned when I stopped at the Root Beer Barrel in Douglas, Michigan.

The stand, built in the 1950s, closed in the mid-1970s. It stood vacant for 25 years, its wooden staves rotting and weeds growing at its feet.

The owner planned demolish it, but the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society stepped in. The organization purchased the oversized barrel for $1.

Chris LeBlanc Michigan

Chris LeBlanc ordered a hotdog at the Root Beer Barrel. Pam LeBlanc

Rebuilding the Barrel

A Save the Barrel campaign ensued, and fans of the former root beer and hotdog stand pitched in more than $11,000 to refurbish the roadside attraction.

Read more: Taste fireweed and spruce tips at this awesome ice cream shop in Alaska

Restoration began in 2011. Volunteers removed lead paint, dismantled the pieces, and moved it to a workshop. There, the long wooden strips that form the barrel’s walls were repaired, sanded, and sealed. A new steel base ring was crafted, too.

The stand reopened in 2016 and today caters to beachgoers on their way to nearby Oval Beach.

I ordered a root beer float and a chili cheese dog, and ate them at a wooden picnic table in the shadow of the towering barrel.

When the concession stand first opened, customers could buy a regular hotdog for a quarter, a hamburger for 35 cents, a foot-long hotdog for 40 cents, a root beer for a dime, or a float for 20 cents.

You’ll pay more today, but it’s still worth it for the smile.

The Root Beer Barrel is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Douglas Michigan

The Root Beer Barrel in Douglas, Michigan, serves root beer and hotdogs. Pam LeBlanc photo

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