Bits & Bites: Changes Keep Coming for Door County’s Food Scene

Local couple Ben McMahon and Laura Seaquist will reopen Czarnuszka in early spring. 

“Same location. Same name. Same recipes. Same bowls and spoons. Same just about everything,” posted former soup guy Paul Wanish on the soup bar’s Facebook page.

Wanish also posted that he’s overjoyed the couple will keep the ball rolling after his back made the task too daunting to continue. 

“I am anxious to see them bring new vigor, new energy and new ideas to a business I cherished and had a whole lot of fun creating,” he said. “I also look forward to walking in there soon as a customer and sitting on the other side of the counter.” 

McMahon and Seaquist will soon take over Wanish’s Facebook business page, and he’ll give up his administrator status, so the social-media post was his final one, he said. He also used it to express gratitude. 

“Thank you to everyone who came in, joked around with me, played along, got the jokes and slurped some soup,” he said. “Please return this spring and see what fun, new things these friends bring to the shop!”

Tapas, Burger Nights at Waterfront

Sister Bay – At Waterfront Restaurant in Sister Bay, Wednesdays and Thursdays are bringing something new through the end of the year. “Tapas, burgers, martinis and social distancing” are on the bill at one of the county’s most acclaimed restaurants. 

According to a post on its Instagram feed, diners can “think of it as a very casual, sparsely attended, holiday party for one.”

The first burger night Dec. 9 featured a bacon bleu burger with rosemary bacon confit, crumbled blue cheese and béarnaise compound butter on a pretzel bun – not your ordinary burger!  

The Waterfront burger special Dec. 9 was a bacon bleu, and it was spectacular.

The specials are available for dine-in or carryout, but no group dinners. Those looking to dine in are asked to call ahead so the restaurant can plan for socially distanced seating. 

The Waterfront is open Wednesday – Saturday through Jan. 1. It will be closed Dec. 23-26.

Wickman, Trixie’s Introduce Takeout-only Menus

Ellison Bay, Ephraim – Owner Mike Holmes is changing things up at his two acclaimed fine-dining restaurants … again. 

Holmes and Chef Matt Chambas transformed Wickman House into a barbecue joint when COVID-19 hit last spring, then morphed to limited seating for a more traditional Wickman menu in late summer. Now Wickman House has launched a takeout-only Asian menu featuring poke, crab rangoon and pad thai. 

“Just changing the restaurant one more time is fun,” Holmes said sarcastically. “People are learning new skills.”

Front-of-house staff members are helping in the kitchen and learning new skills.

“We’re exhausted, and we’re just trying to keep people employed,” Holmes said. “We couldn’t do indoor dining right now and feel right about it. As hard of a decision as it was, I had to figure out how to keep front-of-house staff working.”

The staff at Trixie’s has introduced a simple takeout menu featuring smash burgers, banh mi sandwiches and soups. 

Holmes said his goal is to stay open at least through mid-February, but like all business owners, he’s keeping an eye on the legislators in Washington, D.C., and Madison to see whether there’s more help coming for the battered restaurant industry. 

“Literally, I’m just trying to see what the hell is going on,” he said. “Until we have a few more answers, I’m just trying to keep running. I want to keep people employed for them, but also for me to retain our great staff. I don’t want to lose people.”

Cherry Lanes for Sale

Sturgeon BayCherry Lanes, the historic Sturgeon Bay bowling alley that was remodeled into an arcade bar and bowling alley in 2018, is up for sale or rent. The building dates to 1929 and includes 15,000 square feet and a completely renovated bar. The list price is $550,000.

Photo by Len Villano.

Six Awards for von Stiehl Winery

Algoma – Von Stiehl Winery in Algoma, Wisconsin’s oldest licensed winery, brought home six awards recently from the third annual USA Wine Ratings International Competition, which judges wines from around the world on a 100-point system based on quality, value and packaging. Von Stiehl’s 2017 cabernet sauvignon earned a coveted gold with a 92-point rating.

“The gold medal-winning 2017 cabernet sauvignon is a great example of our growth as winemakers and our brand,” said Anthony Bilwin, general manager. “This cabernet showcases how supple and elegant Sierra Foothills AVA fruit can be when aged 16months in French hybrid barrels. It releases fragrant aromas of cassis, black cherry and plum, with balanced tannins and flavors of dark berries and currant.”

The food-friendly Riesling continued its winning tradition, earning a silver medal at 87 points. Other wine-competition winners were dolcetto (silver), Sangiovese Grosso (silver), cherry bounce (silver) and Stony Creek rosé (bronze). 

The wines showcase the diversity of the winery’s portfolio and add to its already impressive range of fruit wines, brandies, ciders and high-end, varietal-specific wine made from California and Washington fruit, Bilwin said.

Visit the von Stiehl tasting room in Algoma seven days a week year-round, or order online at