Most of us have this image of Al Capone as being a notorious mobster. And this is true, but many people in the Couderay, Wisconsin, region think he was a nice man. In fact, my father met a man who had built a fireplace for him at his northern retreat, the Hideout. He told my Dad (when we vacationed as a family in the ‘70s) that Capone was a personable man that gave monies away to some poor people and Indian children. The man claimed that Capone was known to give coins to Indian children (I think $0.50 pieces). Anyway, he had a different reputation amongst some of the people that lived in the Couderay region.
Al Capone, in the 1920s, built his northern retreat. The cost at that time to build it was $250,000. This lakefront retreat has 1,100-foot frontage on Chippewa Flowage. The 90-acre lake was supposedly used by airplanes to smuggle in liquor during Prohibition. Then the Capone gang rolled barrels of booze into trucks.
In 1959, Capone’s northern retreat was turned into a restaurant and museum by a man named E.N. Houston. After owning it for over 40 years, it was sold and continues to be a restaurant and museum. Here, you can take a guided tour through Capone’s living quarters of the main lodge and around the ground’s nine additional buildings. Once you get in the living quarters, you will see that parts of it have ordinary features, such as an enormous fireplace, custom-carved spiral staircases, and deer-antler fixtures, but it still has a mobster’s touch: the house has bulletproof walls (18-inch-thick fieldstone), a secret bunkhouse for the gang, a blockhouse with a jail cell, an exercise yard, and a guard tower where guards with machine guns were on the lookout. In addition, there is a switch that Al Capone had in his bedroom that allowed him to turn on all the lights in the house. You also tour the Roaring ‘20s museum and view the recreation of the St. Valentine’s Massacre display.
The garage that was built to house Capone’s eight black limos was refurbished to a restaurant. Here you can have fine dining meals and cocktails. In addition, this place has a snack bar and a gift shop. Although we didn’t eat fine dining here, we did have an ice-cream specialty that was fabulous at the ice-cream parlor. And I did purchase a T-shirt with a character image of Al Capone with a machine gun, with words above it saying Al Capone’s Hideout Couderay, WI.
The Al Capone Hideout tour is offered from May to Labor Day on the hour from 11am to 6pm and Labor Day through October from 11am to 5pm. Concerning the restaurant and cocktails, reservations are appreciated, and it serves Tuesday through Saturday 4pm to 9pm and Sunday 12 to 7pm. It serves burgers, sandwiches, steaks, prime rib, and seafood. The snack bar is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11am to 5pm daily. It serves red-hot Chicago hotdogs, pizza slices, ice-cream treats, etc. And the gift shop is open 11am to 7pm. It sells a variety of gifts, souvenirs, and antiques.
The address to the Hideout is 12101 W. County Rd., Couderay, WI 54828, and the phone number is 715/945-2746. The Hideout is located north of Highway 27-70 at Couderay, Wisconsin. Take that onto Highway CC North, 6 miles to the entrance or only 17 miles southeast of Hayward, then take Highway 8 east to Highway NN, head south on NN to Highway N, go east on N 2 blocks to Highway CC, then go east on Highway CC, where you are half a mile to the entrance.