Who wouldn’t love to buy alpine cheese from a Swiss style food truck? Or see what was once the world’s largest cuckoo clock? Or dine in the Heidi Chalet restaurant under large murals of the Alps?
You could find all of these at Alpina-Alpa on Route 62 in Wilmot, Ohio. The restaurant Alice and Hans Grossinklaus founded in 1935.
Alice was born in Switzerland, but her family moved to Ohio when she was in grade school. She married Hans, a Swiss cheesemaker, and moved to the Amish country.
Alpina-Alpa was known for the world’s largest cuckoo clock featured on the cover of the 1978 Guinness Book of World Records.
Karl Schleutermann, a clockmaker, was commissioned to build the clock. Work began in 1962, completed in 1974, and cost $50,000. It stood 23 1/2 feet high, 24 feet long, and 13 1/2 feet wide. A copper kettle waterfall and dwarf island were later added. It cuckooed on the hour and half-hour with performances from animated carvings from Schwarzwald, Germany.
At the time, it cost 25 cents to walk on the roof of the restaurant and see the clock.
Other attractions were added. In 1983, Sugarcreek artist, Tom Miller, was commissioned to paint several scenic murals throughout the restaurant.
In 2001 Alice Grossinklaus passed away. Ann DeHaus and her daughter, Lee Ann Miller, and her son-in-law, Daryl Miller, bought the restaurant in 2002. They renamed it Grandma’s Alpine Homestead.
Time had taken its toll on the clock. In 2007, the clock was moved from the hillside behind the restaurant to ground level for repairs. The clock was no longer working but through efforts from the Hampton Hotels’ Save-A-Landmark Program restoration work began.
In 2009, Grandma’s Alpine Homestead closed and everything went up for auction, including the clock.
Mark Coblentz, the owner of Walnut Creek Cheese, bought the cuckoo clock for a reported $15,000. Soon after, Sugarcreek businessman Lavon Daugherty approached Coblentz with the idea to move the clock to Sugarcreek, the town known as the “Little Switzerland of Ohio”. Coblentz generously donated the clock to the Village of Sugarcreek.