Wild Alaskan Café closes, Tahoe business to continue with catering
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — After snagging the Wild Alaskan Café on their line and holding onto it for several years, its owners have released their catch due to financial reasons.
The restaurant, after operating for roughly a decade at its location at 930 Tahoe Blvd., No. 901, in the Raley’s shopping center, closed its doors Saturday.
Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Ethan Bolinger and Kendra Wong made the decision to close the storefront last week, in light of a piece of equipment needed for operation being unreliable and costly to replace.
“Ultimately, we know it was short notice, but being closed all last week (Sept. 5-10) because of this problem really kind of made us realize that this wasn’t going to be sustainable,” Wong said Saturday. “Customers need to rely on you to be open, and if you’re not open a regular basis, then they stop coming.”
The couple declined to reveal what piece of equipment was needed. However, Bolinger said it would cost at least $25,000 to replace, and the problem may run deeper, with a loss of business during repairs.
“For the people who come and visit us all the time, who are here on a regular basis, those are the people that you think about the most when you make a decision like this,” said Wong regarding the difficult choice to close shop. “Those are the people who have supported us during the busy time, during the slow times, throughout the year.”
One of those loyal customers is Incline Village resident Kim Cameron, who ate at Wild Alaskan at least once a week.
“I’m so bummed (they’re closing) because they have great food,” she said as she was leaving the restaurant Saturday. “The people here are phenomenal. … I come in here, and I feel like I’m part of a family.”
While the closure took Cameron by surprise, she said she understands that in business, financial decisions need to be made.
“I just wanted this to go on forever because I love it,” Cameron said.
Bolinger said he intends to continue the Wild Alaskan business through catering.
“(I’m) OK with change, with the next chapter,” he said. “(I’m) looking forward to catering. Catering opens up a lot of different avenues for me, and I’m excited about that. As much as it’s closing a door, it’s opening another one.”
Those catering logistics are still being developed, Wong said, with details to be posted on Wild Alaskan’s website and Facebook page.
Similar to the food served at the restaurant, Bolinger said he would continue with healthy, organic and predominately seafood offerings.
Dishes found on the restaurant’s menu included Thai seafood soup, fish tacos, beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips, salads and teriyaki rice bowls.
Bolinger and Wong don’t know how the storefront will be used once their lease expires Oct. 31.
A call to Incline Property Management, which manages the building where Wild Alaskan is located, was not returned for this story.
Wild Alaskan moved into its current location in the mid-2000s, relocating from where Sunshine Deli at 919 Incline Way is located, said Wong, who also is chairwoman of the Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustes.
Originally, Wild Alaskan was owned by Kitty and Rob Smith, with two storefront locations — one in Incline and the other in Reno.
In the early 2000s, Bolinger’s aunt and uncle, Kathy Larson and Gordon Flett, purchased the Incline-based restaurant, with Bolinger and Wong taking it over in 2011.
On the eve of the restaurant’s closure, it was staffed by 12 employees, most of whom have second jobs, Wong said.
She added that some employees will be retained for the couple’s catering venture, but at this time can’t provide an exactly figure.
“We just really want to thank everybody who supported us over the years, who have been great customers and made this a great place to be,” she said.