Of all the cool things to see, do, and visit in Door County, Wisconsin the goats on top of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sisters Bay might be the most popular, but how did they get there?

Swedish Eats in Door County, Wisconsin

Here's one fact about me, I am about 75% Swedish. My mom is full Swede, and my dad is mostly Swede and about about a quarter German, (thanks to the last name Zimmerman), so Swedish food was a big part of my upbringing.

When I was a young kid my family went to Door County, and I remember stopping at a Swedish restaurant that everyone raved about to my parents. The food the restaurant served might not have stuck in my core memories, but the goats that were on top of it certainly did!

The Famous Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Door County, Wisconsin

At Al Johnson's Restaurant in Sisters Bay the goats are more than just barnyard animals, they're celebrities, but how did this whole hoofed-on-the-roof situation even begin? Turns out the true story is even better than I imagined!

Al Johnson's website says it all began because of a fun birthday gift tradition courtesy of a man named Wink Larson;

Wink Larson was a man who understood tradition. Every year, in celebration of Al Johnson’s birthday, he would bring Al a gift. Not an ordinary gift, of course. But something memorable. One year it was a burro; another year a sheep; once a baby pig; and the single gift which would change Al’s life, the village of Sister Bay, and the entire history of Door County tourism—the birthday Wink walked into the restaurant with a goat named Oscar, ribbons tied to its horns and a note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AL.


In 1973 when Al Johnson needed to redo the roof of his restaurant, he decided to sod it and put his birthday gift goat up there, and needless to say, it was a massive hit.

Now that we know WHY goats are on the roof of Al Johnson's restaurant, I think we need to know HOW they get up there, and if the rooftop is the goats' permanent residence.

This fun video should answer most of your questions...

So, the next time you're in Wisconsin, be sure to check out Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik for a fun day of eating, shopping, drinking, and goat gazing all in one pretty unique and fabulous location.

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