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A tradition continues as Shute’s Saloon reopens in Calumet

August 7, 2010
By Kurt Hauglie, DMG Writer

CALUMET - John Vertin and Brad Wagner contemplated going into business together quite awhile ago before they actually got together to buy Shute's Saloon late last year.

"About 25 years ago, we almost bought the Michigan House (in Calumet)," Vertin said.

However, Vertin said Wagner, who was in the military at the time, was transfered to Germany, so that deal fell through.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
The staff behind the bar at Shute's Saloon in Calumet includes, from right, Jenna Wuorinen, Ashley Utzman and John Vertin Friday afternoon.

Vertin and Wagner re-opened Shute's Friday after being closed since March 2009. After some bureaucratic delays, the two received a liquor license July 28.

In October 2009, Vertin said he met Wagner at the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, and Wagner had an interesting question for him.

"He said, 'Want to buy a bar in Calumet?'" Vertin said.

Wagner said he actually had begun the process to buy the bar, which originally opened in 1890.

"At that time, I put an offer into the bank," he said. "I needed a partner bad."

Wagner, who is the coordinator of academic services in the Michigan Technological University School of Business and Economics, said he became interested in Shute's as a "target of opportunity," but he understands the local historical significance of the business.

"I did know it was an older bar," he said. "I know (former owner) Bernie Shute."

Vertin, whose family owned Vertin Department stores, which he worked at for 30 years, said he appreciates being involved with a business about has old as his family's store on the corner of Oak and Sixth streets.

"My dad was involved with everything (in Calumet)," he said. "He would like to see this place open."

After Vertin and Wagner became partners, they started work to get Shute's in condition for opening including painting, sanding and finishing the wood floors, polishing the wood trim throughout the bar and getting new furniture.

The main bar, back bar and glass canopy over the back bar are owned by the village, and each owner of Shute's leases them from the village. Wagner said the canopy, which has a Tiffany look to it, is one of only two or three left in the world.

Wagner said food, other than snacks, won't be sold at the bar, but that shouldn't stop patrons from eating there.

"People can bring food in," he said.

Wagner said he and Vertin are hoping to establish a diverse clientel of all ages and professions, and expects people are going to want to see what the parners have done with Shute's.

"We're very much aware of the community interest in the place," he said.

Kurt Hauglie can be reached at khauglie



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