In 1970, Paul and Fran Kuntz piled their seven children into the family station wagon and moved north from Flint in pursuit of better times. In October of that year, they bought Andy’s Bar in Johannesburg and moved their family into the small house behind it. They soon renamed it Paul’s Pub.
Paul managed the pub as a one-man operation while Fran worked as a registered nurse. In 1976 she came up with the idea of doing a Friday fish fry, which was an instant success. Fran recalls: “At that time the kitchen was so small that all of the prep was done in our home. We baked muffins, made our own butter pats, thawed the fish, and made cole slaw. On Friday mornings the kids would say; “Oh, no, it’s Friday!” because they all knew they would be put to work.”
The business continued to grow and in 1990, Fran and Paul turned the management of Paul’s Pub to their daughter, Holly. She and her husband, Steve Atkinson purchased it in 2001.
The main cook is their oldest daughter, Ann Dreffs, who took over cooking the fish fry when she was 16 years old. All of their children have worked in the business at one time or another.
The building itself was originally the home of the Long family. In 1936, William Wiggins acquired it by trading houses with the Longs. He then moved the house to its present location, using a one-horse “whiplash” and rolling it along on logs. He named it Bill’s Tavern. It continued to operate as a bar, through various owners, until the Kuntz family acquired it. The first major renovation was in 1991 when the kitchen and bathrooms were expanded. In 1996, an addition was made that nearly doubled the size and changed the appearance.
Today Paul’s Pub is one of the most popular eateries in Northern Michigan, and you can still expect to find a Kuntz family member somewhere in the house.