Birmingham’s is located on beautiful Bay Shore Drive, 5 miles north of Sturgeon Bay along the waters of Green Bay.
The original building, currently housing the bar and kitchen, was built in 1928 and operated as a grocery and general store by Herman and Elsie Geitner with their family of three children: Robert Geitner, Dorothy Gmach, and Marian June Birmingham. The store serviced the many lake freighters arriving at The Old Stone Quarry for crushed stone (an operation that employed 50-75 people) as well as many locals. In the summer months cherry pickers for Goldman, Reynolds, and Martin Orchards frequented the store for supplies. At the time, Bay Shore Drive ended shortly after the Stone Quarry and the general store became a place for quarry workers, and their families who lived close by, to shop for general goods; macaroni, cornflakes, flour and ring Bologna were just a few items stocked regularly. Kerosene came in big wooden barrels that the Geitner children would scoop out to keep the place lit.
Groceries and ice were also delivered to a few customers (Joe Elliot and Paulson’s who lived in the Chateau Hutter area) by Model T Ford truck on Saturdays. Robert usually made these special deliveries with June along for the ride.
It was no coincidence that Herman and Elsie purchased land on the bay. Access to the water not only provided perch and whitefish used for future Friday night fish fries, but in the winter months, ice would be cut and stored in an ice house in large blocks and covered with sawdust. Needless to say, no refrigeration was available. A few summer residents frequented cottages at Little Harbor and enjoyed the stop for hand packed ice cream – quarts & quarts!
By 1940 prohibition had been repealed. The quarry operation was ceasing and moving to Michigan, so Herman and Elise’s grocery store operation also ceased as rationing became a major problem and Sturgeon Bay went to work for the war effort building ships. During this time the general store shifted to beer and liquor sales. Already having a strong connection with the locals, this transition was met with success. Now, old employees from the quarry and other locals would frequent the store for a quick drink and chat with the Geitners. Dining was added later on with .15 cent fish fry plates, .25 cent chicken dinners, and .50 cent hamburgers served on white bread.
In the early 1940’s cottages #1, #2, and #3 were built by Herman; their first occupants were shipyard workers. Herman Geitner was the first resident to have cottages on Bay Shore Drive. Many years later, in 1956, Cottage #4 was built as an additional rental property. Over the years, the cottages have seen many updates as they have become modernized. Most recently, in 2018 The Barn, which had been originally built in 1976, was completely renovated into an additional rental unit – a longtime dream of Bud’s come to fruition.
As time progressed, the two gas pumps and tanks were removed from the front of the building – creating the enlarged parking area. A few things that have stood the test of time are the old ice cooler which stands behind the bar and the ship model which hangs on the back wall. The model was carved by Guy L. McCracken who lived and worked directly across Bay Shore Drive and was featured in National Geographic Magazine.
June Geitner married North (Bud) Birmingham on February 16, 1946. They later purchased the property from June’s parents on July 1, 1953 and turned it into the full time restaurant and waterfront resort we know today; renaming it Birmingham’s. Bud was the popular face behind the bar for many years while June cooked and baked every day. Today, the most popular specials are still the Friday night perch and whitefish plates and Sunday night desserts featuring June’s recipes. But many specials of BBQ ribs, steaks, seafood and chops are available and of course the famous cheeseburgers on white bread and fresh cut french fries!
June and Bud’s son, Brad, carries on his parents’ and grandparent’s legacies along with his wife, Jackie, and kids McKenzie, Drew, Bryce and Lily. Brad is the friendly face behind the bar along with many longtime employees maintaining a great atmosphere for people to enjoy. The Birmingham’s invite you to pull up a stool and stay for a chat. We are proud of our heritage, come and visit!
Open 7 days a week (excluding a few major holidays) with lunch specials, nightly dinners and cocktails in a family and homey atmosphere