The Pickwick restaurant, long a Duluth tradition, will see its last day of operations Saturday under the Wisocki family.
After 90 years and four generations of family ownership, current owner Chris Wisocki is selling the restaurant at 508 E. Superior St. to experienced restauranteur Tim Wright of Duluth whose family operates The Egg Harbor Cafe restaurant chain in the Chicago era.
“I’m moving on,” said Wisocki, 37, who may seek other work in restaurant operations. “It’s going to be a good thing.”
Although it will be business as usual through Saturday, he hopes people will stop by.
“I want to thank everybody, employees, the community and family that made it what it is,” he said, noting a “bittersweet” mood this week at Pickwick.
The restaurant’s asset sale tentatively closes on April 19, he said.
“It’ll still be around,” Wisocki said of the restaurant. “It’ll still be the Pickwick.”
But its current 65 employees will be laid off at week’s end, he said.
The fate of the restaurant’s union shop, which has seen turbulent times under Chris Wisocki’s ownership, is unclear. But typically new owners must bargain if more than 50 percent of the current employees are rehired.
Todd Erickson, president of Workers United Union Local 99, which represents the Pickwick employees, said the union hopes to start a new relationship with the new owners. “We want the union to be there.”
In a letter to the editor Monday, longtime Pickwick bartender Bjorn Braaten wrote:
“There has certainly been some controversy and emotions surrounding Pickwick lately. It seems all of these strong opinions stem from the fantastic 96-year history of the original Duluth restaurant. I have nothing but good feelings about the experiences I’ve had. Whatever your feelings, I’m willing to bet you’ve had a great experience at Pickwick at least once. I urge you to come in the rest of the week and help us give this landmark family a party worthy of their legacy.”
Said Wisocki: “We’re just going to have a good time, just hang out, talk to all the locals and say thank you all week.”
According to Wisocki, the new owners will keep the restaurant’s distinctive German-style pub look. Its historic features and accessories are part of the sale. The new owners plan to update the kitchen, make other improvements and do restoration work on the restaurant that was once part of the Fitger Brewing Co.
“They’re really good at that,” he said.