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Fine dining in a small-town setting

Skaliwags location in Algoma reopens with new name, owner after extended closure because of COVID-19

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March 23, 2023

ALGOMA – From growing up in southeastern Georgia on St. Simons Island and having ambitions to play college football at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marshall Wiltfang said he’s had quite the journey to owning and operating the Son of Skaliwags restaurant in Algoma.

“That was the plan, but I never got the offer,” Wiltfang said about the possibility of playing football for the Badgers. “That didn’t work out, so here I am today.”

Wiltfang said he moved to Algoma – the small city in Kewaunee County – in 2015 for his senior year of high school and began working for the family business – Skaliwags, which was owned and operated by his dad, Chris.

“I loved it,” he said. “Twelve years ago, my grandmother bought this building (located at 312 Clark Street) in foreclosure.”
Wiltfang said his father bought the building from his grandmother a year later.

“It was a little dive bar, and he ran that for about 10 years before the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down,” he said.

The pandemic’s impact
During COVID, Wiltfang said the restaurant shut down for more than a year.

“I wasn’t running the business at that point, so I didn’t understand everything that was going on,” he said. “We sat down as a family and discussed what opportunities we had left. We had to swallow our pride and close everything down. We had a food truck, but it was so much money going out and no money coming – it was a tough way to make a living.”

Wiltfang started carrying on the Skaliwags legacy two years ago when he bought the business from his dad.

“We’ve been all over the place and have had multiple Skaliwags in several counties in Northeast Wisconsin, but this is the only one we currently have open,” he said. “It’s the original restaurant, so it’s special – we’ve made it through the tough times. It’s a 25-seat restaurant with (great) food.”

Reopening after COVID, Wiltfang said, also brought another change to Skaliwags – a new name.

“I changed the name to ‘Son of Skaliwags,’” the 26-year-old said. “Since we had been closed, I wanted to rebrand the signs. I’m sure people driving by were surprised it was open again after being closed for so long.”

Wiltfang said he doesn’t have what you’d call an extensive cooking background, but he has leaned on others to learn the trade.

“I’ve made friends with a lot of chefs around the area,” he said. “I have no problem asking questions – I’m still learning because I’m a bit younger. We focus on bringing in fresh products – that’s one of the keys to cooking. I’m still refining things, but the idea with fresh fish is to not mess it up.”

Wiltfang said the restaurant “goes through a ton of big, beautiful gulf shrimp.”

Marshall Wiltfang is the head chef/owner of Son of Skaliwags in Algoma. Wiltfang grew up in Southeastern Georgia before moving to Algoma in 2015. Photo Courtesy of Hamlet Creek Studios

“I also do prawns, grouper, crabcakes and whatever boats are catching,” he said. “We also offer fish people might not have even heard of.”

Wiltfang said because he grew up in a different area and is a little less familiar with the fish native to Northeast Wisconsin, his dad gave him some advice.

“When I got up here, my dad said, ‘It’s hard to compete with people who have been offering the same (fish) for a long time,’” he said. “I grew up eating snappers and a different style of perch in Georgia. I want to offer something different.”

According to the restaurant’s website (, it also offers appetizers, filet tenderloin and split-bone ribeye.

Reopening full-time
Now that the restaurant is open full-time again, Wiltfang said he’s excited to continue offering quality food.

“I took a little holiday earlier this year, but we’re good to go now,” he said. “I have a few full-timers and a few part-timers – probably six total.”

Though his family has owned and operated Skaliwags in several locations over the years, Wiltfang said he’s content with running a single operation – for now.

“Right now, I’m focused on running Son of Skaliwags in Algoma,” he said. “Having said that, there’s so much I can do with this location because I own the property next door, too. I don’t have a casual side to my menu yet, so I’m looking at getting a food trailer here in the next few weeks – doing brunch is (also) possible.”

The long-range plan, Wiltfang said, includes catering.

“I’d like to cater more,” he said. “I have a couple of ideas about facilities. We work with the school with a mentorship program – we’re trying to build something. We’ve had one go (through) the program, and he’s doing well.”

Son of Skaliwags hours of operation are from 4:30-8 p.m. Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays and from 4:30-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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