Year in Review 2023 – Palate

Local Restaurants For Sale

Wickman House. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
Wild Tomato. File photo by Dan Eggert.
  • Ellison Bay’s Wickman House went on the market this year, though the list price for $989,000 did not include the restaurant name or brand. Owner Mike Holmes had a buyer by year’s end and was expected to close on the sale on Jan. 1. In January of this year, the Wickman house became the first restaurant in Door County be nominated for a James Beard Award. It was one of 20 nominees nationwide for the Outstanding Restaurant category, which honors an establishment that “demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community.” By year’s end, the restaurant had been put on the market with a sale pending.
  • Northern Door’s Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza is on the market for $8,250,000, which includes the business, trademarks, the frozen pizza line and two prime pieces of real estate in Fish Creek and Sister Bay. Owner Britton Unkefer said he’s selling the business in preparation to move to Italy. By year’s end, Unkefer had a buyer for the business.
  • The Ephraim real estate that houses Fresh Take 42 is for sale, but the business is not; owners Asche Rider and Dave Reera said they would continue their catering and event business. Meanwhile, the property, formerly Joe Jo’s Pizza, went on the market for $814,000 and reportedly had a buyer by year’s end.
  • The Rusty Tractor, a seasonal breakfast joint in Egg Harbor, is for sale for $890,000.
  • The Log Den, an Egg Harbor restaurant built in 2001, is for sale for $1,999,000.
  • The Shoreline Restaurant, a Gills Rock restaurant, is for sale for $795,000. Owners Mike and Mary Mead, who have operated the business since 1990, are retiring and offering “the turn-key” restaurant for sale, according to the listing. By year’s end, the Meads reportedly had a buyer for the business.

Sway Brewing and Blending

Sway owner Matt Sampson. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

In February, Baileys Harbor coffee shop Heirloom Café and Provisions announced that it would be closing, and that brewery Sway Brewing and Blending would be expanding into its former space. 

Brews Bring Awareness to Invasive Species

Lanternfly coasters at Starboard Brewing. File photo.

The Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) launched a pilot project using local breweries as disseminators of invasive-species information. Sturgeon Bay’s Starboard Brewing Company was the first brewery to help in this effort, creating the Planthopper Pale Ale to spread information about the spotted lanternfly in April.

Authentic Italian Fare Comes to Ellison Bay

Della Porta executive chef Robin Brown tops off his paccheri alle cozze with olive oil. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

Italian restaurant Della Porta Trattoria e Pizzeria Napoletana opened in Ellison Bay in late spring, serving dinner out of Blue Bear while making renovations to its permanent home: the former Viking Fish Boil building on the property. 

Chives Launches Breakfast Food Truck

The Chives Grill and Griddle truck. File photo.

This May, Baileys Harbor restaurant Chives added a breakfast option to their food-truck garden. The food truck, a converted 25-foot trailer reminiscent of a classic American diner, is run by the owners of Morning Glory of Door County, which has locations in Sturgeon Bay and Southern Door. 

Pinky Promise Opens Café

Pinky Promise. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

Pinky Promise started in 2020 as a coffee roaster, and this May, it opened a coffee shop in Sturgeon Bay in collaboration with ARTicipation Studio and Gallery. The shop features pastries, coffee drinks made from house-roasted beans and snacks from other local businesses.

Door Peninsula Wine Wins Award

Peninsula Red. Photo courtesy of Door Peninsula Winery’s Instagram page.

Door Peninsula Winery’s Peninsula Red earned a double gold medal at the 23rd Finger Lakes International Wine and Spirits Competition in July. A blend of Door County cherry juice and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, Peninsula Red was the only Wisconsin wine to receive this distinction. 

Lost Tuk Tuk Closes

Lost Tuk Tuk. File photo by Rachel Lukas.

Lost Tuk Tuk, an Ephraim curry and noodle bar that opened in 2022, announced it will be closing permanently this September. 

Sonny’s Featured in America’s Best Restaurants Episode

File photo.

In September, Sonny’s Italian Kitchen and Pizzeria in Sturgeon Bay hosted a visit from America’s Best Restaurants. The show highlighted popular dishes and an interview with owners Laura and Jason Estes about the restaurant’s place in the community.