University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Rivard, John T. / Triple centennial jubilee souvenir book : Somerset

Chapter IX: Somerset and frogs,   pp. 31-38

Page 31

When you think of frogs you might think of frog legs.
And when you think of frog legs you think of Somerset. Since
1938 Somerset is known throughout the Northwest as the Frog
Leg Capital of the World. People from everywhere come to
our beautiful and spacious restaurants to eat frog legs, steaks
and other fine dishes. We have without a doubt the finest,
well equipped, beautifully situated, and excellent restaurants
in the Northwest. Sure, they have a fine restaurant here and
there that may outshine ours, but we have three such noted
eating places: The Steakhouse, The Terrace, The River's Edge.
These high class dining rooms give eclat and chicness to a small
village that is unusual. The cusine and personnel give each
place distinction sans pareil.  Add to these three restaurants.
two smaller family style places, Maurice's and Lynn's, with
a homey personal air and you have sparkle and interest in eating
at Somerset. Class, distinction, homey atmosphere and beautiful
decor both in building and in the natural surroundings add up to
"an adventure in taste".
It started with a young man coming to Somerset with
leather jacket and boots in i9z6. The natives were suspicious
about this man who roamed the fields near their moonshine stills.
But they soon found out he had a most peculiar vocation - he
was catching frogs! Gus Beyl came from Villard, Minnesota to
catch frogs and ship them to Eastern hotels and restaurants.
In 1938 he built The Palms Restaurant. With the artistry of
his wife, Pearl, he served frog legs and turtle meat. The first
three days after opening they served 3000 people. The first
plate of frog legs was served to Elmer Parnell. Like a frog -
word jumped fast throughout the Northwest and people began
comin to Somerset to eat frog leg dinners. Mr. Donald Hough,
journalist and author, wrote in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on
August zz, 1954 as follows: "When I think of frog legs I of
course think of Somerset, Wisconsin, which so far as I have
been able to find out is the frog leg capital of the civilized world.
I have known the frog leg industry in Somerset since it was a
tadpole. It began in a tiny restaurant on the main street. They
now have the largest frog farm 1. ever heard of and some restaur,
ants, taken with their settings along the banks of the beautiful
Apple River, are considered by people much more traveled than
I am to be among the most attractive, even dramatic, anywhere.
The New York and New Orleans frog legs lack one ingredient
that I wouldn't exchange for all the others. That ingredient
is the Apple River."
Frog legs ready for the deep fry.
Before we go any further let us jump back to the beginniig
of our wonderful eating places. The oldest restaurant is the
Palms-Steakhouse. It was built in i909 by Joseph Plourde
Sr. from lumber that he tore down from the old St. Anne's
School on the north side of the old church. He bought the
old school for $zzo.oo. He built apartments. Amable Lemire
bought the big house and made a restaurant out of it along with
living quarters. He ran this restaurant from 1917 to 1938
when he sold it to Gus Beyl. Gus renovated it and frog history
began in Somerset. In 194 1 Gus built his frog farm and sheds.
A spring runs through the sheds to keep the pens refreshed. He
,bought frogs form local men and boys and shipped them to all
parts of the States. He had as many as 30 tons of frogs at one
time in his sheds. His family would dress 9oo dozen a day
at times. The "green grasser" made quite an industry. He
dealt in turtles too.
In 1946 Beyl sold out to Ben Breault and Fred LeGrandeur.
The tradition of good eating has been continued.  Marcel
Breault is now manager.
Turtles for a "Snappy" Meal
These turtles weigh hundreds of pounds. Gus Beyl holds one out
of reach while Cliff Dybdahl looks on from a distance.
Gus Beyl's Frog Shed
Earl Hecht is now manager of the business.

Go up to Top of Page