By Jim Newell
For those who knew Peter Kalohn personally, he was fun-loving man with a great sense of humor who liked to spend time with family and friends and cook.
Others who knew Kalohn knew him as a longtime Lake Orion resident and businessman, owner of Pete’s Roadhaus, famous for its house salad dressing, German fried potatoes and Pete’s quick wit and pranks.
Kalohn died on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the age of 94. A Memorial Service is planned for a later date. (See Obituaries on page 13).
He was born on Oct. 15, 1926 in Albany, New York to August and Irene Kalohn and was a proud World War II Army veteran.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Edith Kalohn, their five children and five grandchildren.
Mary Beth Anker, Kalohn’s daughter, said her mother was the love her father’s life and he deeply loved his children and grandchildren.
Kalohn was an avid golfer, dog lover and built a poker room so he could play with his buddies, said Anker.
“A lot of good memories. People have been reaching out to us and saying, “Oh, I remember how he used to give us circus peanuts and candy,” Anker said. “He had a big heart.”
The restaurant business was in Kalohn’s blood – his father, August Kalohn, owned Gus’ Steak House in what is now the Kruse & Muer restaurant.
And while Peter worked at his father’s restaurant, he eventually wanted to branch out on his own, founding Pete’s Roadhaus, which he owned and operated from March 1973 through 1998.
Anker said people were naturally drawn to her father’s sense of humor and would
“He was very dynamic, a very funny guy. He liked to play a lot of pranks. He was a draw (to the restaurant), people definitely came because of him,” Anker said. “Just a funny guy – life of the party, prankster.
“Anywhere he went it was like, ‘Oh, geez, Pete’s here. What’s going to happen,’” Anker said.
Cooking was something bonded Kalohn to not only his family, but his friends and the community.
Mary Beth said she remembers one time back in the early 1980s, there was a tremendous snowstorm that shut down the entire town.
“I remember he opened the restaurant and it was lined with people. He was serving coffee and food – because the power was out for days and days, over a week. So, my dad said, ‘I have to get rid of all this stuff (food inventory), so I’m going to help the people in the community,” Anker said.
A staple of both restaurants – Gus’ and Pete’s – was the house dressing – which, Anker said, the family will still not reveal the recipe, even after decades of being asked, although it is available at local markets and Lucky’s Natural Foods in Lake Orion.
Hans Kalohn, Pete’s son, founder HK & Company, LLC, and produces the dressing, known as ‘the red dressing.”
According to a 2017 article in the Oxford Leader, diners not only requested it, they craved it, demanded it, even waxed poetic about it.
‘It was quite popular,’ said Hans Kalohn, who worked as a cook at Pete’s Road Haus for many years. ‘It was one-of-a-kind. Nobody else had it. A lot of people liked it because of all the different seasonings in it.’
Peter Kalohn, along with his longtime friend, the late Jim Sherman, Sr., served as Parade Marshalls for the Lone Ranger Parade in Oxford in 2013.
Sherman, owner of Sherman Publications, Inc., the parent company of The Lake Orion Review, wrote a regular column, Jim’s Jottings, and talked about the experience. Both he and Kalohn knew Brace Beemer, the radio voice of The Lone Ranger.
“I’m honored to have been chosen as one of two grand marshals in Oxford’s salute to Brace Beemer, the radio Lone Ranger. Lake Orion’s legend, Peter Kalohn, was the second marshal. Pete knew Brace from his frequenting Pete’s restaurant,” Sherman wrote.
Kalohn and Sherman enjoyed joking with one another, and Kalohn was a frequent subject – and target – in Sherman’s columns.
In a Thanksgiving column entitled, “Sometimes we have to think to give thanks”, Sherman thanked Kalohn for a recipe on baked stuffed chicken, in which the chicken was stuffed with stuffing – and popcorn.
According to Kalohn’s instructions: “Listen for the popping sounds. When the chicken blows the oven door open and the chicken flies across the room it is done.”
A recipe from a cook, or prankster, to a friend.
“There were good friends. They were stinkers, but good-natured. Mischievous, that’s for darn sure,” Anker laughs.