Alaskan Motor Inn is back in business
PIERCE — The Alaskan Motor Inn has been saved from the wrecking ball.
The spirited proclamation revealed a slight smile on the face of owner Sam Williquette.
It’s been a long, tough and tedious road to get the dining hall/motel in the unincorporated community of Alaska to where is now after being closed for two years.
Its spacious bar is now open and the supper club will begin serving is first customers in a week.
Williquette, who has a pedigree of nightclub and supper club experience, was told the motel/supper club combo could never reopen due to its condition.
Gazing at the ceiling and waving his arm, “Just in this room alone, the ceiling was black and red, and the walls were orange, yellow and red,’’ he confessed with a wry smile.
It was a wreck. It had been modified so many times that it appeared to be hopeless. In the past five years ago alone, the place was converted into a colorful haunted house and then a smokehouse grill. Even the windows were painted black to scare the haunted house visitors.
It nearly scared Williquette away.
Williquette purchased the property two years ago. With an armful of remodeling experience, he began renovations himself to save money with the help of his son Al. Room by room they gutted the hotel — which leaked, of course.
“We did an extensive renovation. It was in pretty rough shape,’’ he said. Many people said it couldn’t be done.
It’s progressed to the point now, come spring, the 14-room motel will debut as a bed-and-breakfast.
“It will be plush,’’ Williquette said. “Overstuffed chairs, puffy pillows, big quilts and beds, and very relaxing.’’
Each room will take on the theme of an Alaskan wilderness and wildlife storyline geared toward outdoorsmen. A stone’s throw away is a sportsmen’s playground among East and West Alaska lakes along the fringes of the nine-hole Alaskan Golf Club.
“Each room will be different,’’ Williquette added. “No cookie-cutter rooms.’’
He can hardly wait until the first savory dish is served in the dining rooms.
“It’ll be old fare supper-club menu,’’ he said, “with chicken, steak and seafood.’’ Look for all-you-can-eat sirloin on Wednesdays, a seafood buffet on Fridays and a Sunday brunch buffet. Eventually the juicy prime rib will return as well on Saturdays.
The supper club was a popular destination that specialized in hand-cut, tender steaks popularized by owners Don and Rita Zellner (now running Donny’s Glidden Lodge in Sturgeon Bay) in the 1980s and ‘90s.
“Donny set the bar high,’’ Williquette said with a smile. “We’re looking to see what our customer base wants. We’ll keep changing and adding to the menu.’’
Williquette is waiting for the final state inspection before the supper club can start officially serving from the dining rooms – “Hopefully, it’ll be in a week, but for sure by Dec. 1.’’
Williquette has been in the food service industry all his life. He has been a chef at Eagles Nest Supper Club and Candleglow Inn Supper Club, to name a few of the larger Green Bay-area establishments. He was also the owner of Wallaby’s Steakhouse in Green Bay.
Williquette said people so far are grateful the lights are back on at the Alaskan Motor Inn.
“So many people have stopped in and commented they have gotten married here and had their wedding reception here,” he said. “People have met and dated here. It goes on. A few have teared up. Many believed it was going to get torn down. That it was ready for the wrecking ball.”
Until the supper club opens, Williquette is welcoming back clientele with $2 Bloody Marys on Sundays and $2 (rail) old fashioneds all the time. Hours are from 4 p.m. until closing Tuesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays (dining room opens at 4 p.m.).
“I want to cater to the locals,’’ Williquette stated. “In an ideal world, to what Donny Zellner had would be perfect. Returning to its heyday. We want to keep dining affordable, too. And nobody will leave here hungry.’’
The Alaskan Motor Inn is at N6084 State 42, about halfway between Algoma and Kewaunee.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Alaskan Motor Inn is back in business