The Sleder’s motto, “Good will is good business” is credited to Polly Sleder (nee Kluzak, 1888 – 1967). Polly was the daughter-in-law of Vencil M. Sleder (1850-1904), the Bohemian immigrant who founded Sleder’s in 1882. When Polly was running the tavern and sold a case of beer, she’d throw in a double shot and a beer for free. In the 1930s during prohibition, Polly and Louis Sleder’s son Louie ran the tavern. One way Louie (1909-1993) showed his good will was by serving his famed bourbon and rye “root beer” no charge to local police officers. Happily, prohibition ended, and Polly Sleder’s original vision of good will persists.
Today, good will takes many forms. The obvious examples are the charitable gifts Sleder’s owners Brian and Deb Cairns have donated. For instance, they sponsor families at the holidays, and they donated the proceeds from Sleder’s 125th birthday celebration to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, and they donated the proceeds from the 130th birthday party to the Woman’s Caring Program, which aims to provide disadvantaged children quality childcare and early childhood education. In recent years, Sleder’s has donated over $50,000 to Preserve Hickory Hills where so many Traverse City children learn to ski, race, and enjoy the outdoors. In fact, when you come inside Sleder’s, there’s a jug on the counter where you can make a donation to Hickory Hills.
The perhaps less obvious example of good will, though one that touches many, is the On the Porch Music Series that features national and international singer-songwriters who write and play their original music. This series has been happening for over 20 years and is sponsored by Connemara Concerts, WNMC 90.7 FM, and Leelanau Sound. Sleder’s supplies the venue, posters, and printed tickets, which are sold at Sleder’s, Oryana Food Cooperative, and Brilliant Books. Ticket sales go to the performers. We’ve hosted some remarkably talented musicians on the porch, and we’re grateful to be able to offer these occasions of musical celebration to the community. Please help us support these wonderfully talented, touring musicians and composers by attending one of these fine concerts. You’ll be glad you did.
Of course, our good will is on account of yours—all the people who eat and drink in good company at Sleder’s–so thank you. Sleder’s will turn 137 this year. Be sure to raise a glass to Polly Sleder. May her legacy of good will live on in all of us!