Jenny Luna
Special to the Bonanza

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January 7, 2014
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Meet Your Merchant | Couple brings family feel, fresh fish to Wild Alaskan

Some claim that eating fish can lead to increased levels of happiness. Others say seafood leads to feelings of love.

Anyone seeking evidence to these claims can look to Kendra Wong and Ethan Bolinger, owners of Wild Alaskan Café in the Incline Village Shopping Center.

Under hanging fishing nets and alongside walls made from lobster crates, the young couple holds hands and hugs.

Whether it’s the amount of fresh fish they eat, or whether the newlyweds are still reeling from their wedding in 2012 is unclear. But their love for each other is.

“We eloped to Alaska,” Ethan said with a laugh. “But we invited our families.”

Kendra described their wedding as gorgeous.

“We were married in Glacier Bay on the Norwegian Pearl,” she said. “We stood on the back deck and got married at sunset.”

Alaska and Glacier Bay seemed an appropriate location for the wedding, as Ethan was the new owner of Wild Alaskan. Both he and Kendra grew up fishing and have a love for salmon, but had never been to the Last Frontier.

DOWN TIME

Ethan and Kendra’s cruise ship wedding kicked off a yearly honeymoon of sea travel. Last year the couple visited Turkey and Greece and have plans to cruise the Baltic Sea this spring.

“We’re both busy every day and we work opposite schedules,” said Kendra. “We need that down time together.”

Kendra is the Business Department Chair and an associate professor at Sierra Nevada College. When not on campus, Kendra said she helps with the business side of Wild Alaskan.

“She truly teaches what she preaches,” her husband said. “I take care of the day to day, and when anything goes wrong, I call her.”

Getting out on the waters is also good for the couple, Kendra said, because Ethan can truly get away from work.

“He really needs to disconnect, and the only way I could get him to do that is to not have cell service,” she said.

“In international waters, your cellphone usually doesn’t work,” Ethan added.

At Wild Alaskan, Ethan said he’s done everything from bus tables and wait tables to mop floors and wash dishes.

‘A FAMILY RESTAURANT’

Because both husband and wife grew up fishing, they know quality seafood and aim to bring only the best to their customers.

A daily challenge, Ethan said, is estimating the orders for the day, knowing the quantity and the timing to ensure freshness. Wild Alaskan brings halibut, salmon and cod from Seattle.

Head chef Cello Taddeo jumped the pond a decade ago for good skiing and hasn’t left the area since.

Originally from Birmingham, United Kingdom, Cello uses the Coho Alaskan Salmon for his signature salmon cakes and has perfected the spices in his homemade spicy Thai Curry.

Craft beer is another specialty at Wild Alaskan. Since Ethan bought the restaurant from his aunt and uncle two years ago, he has made some improvements to the log cabin-meets-crab-shack restaurant by expanding the bar and adding a 3-6 p.m. happy hour.

The once two-seater bar was remodeled by friend and regular customer Kent Turner. Kent used materials from the old Grog and Grist market deli for the new bar.

Rogue Yellowsnow IPA, Moose Drool Brown Ale, Red Flash IPA, Lost Coast Brewery’s Great White and Amber Alaskan are some of the craft beers Ethan was sure to have on tap when taking over the restaurant.

Children’s crayoned drawings of fish and of carrot cake above the bar, meanwhile, maintain Wild Alaskan’s family feel.

“This is still a family restaurant,” Ethan said. “It is a place where people come to enjoy time with their families and have a drink.”

The Wild Alaskan is open seven days per week, from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. and again from 9-10. The menu includes daily specials, options for kids, homemade soups and season salads.

Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at jluna0928@gmail.com.

“(Wild Alaskan) is a place where people come to enjoy time with their families and have a drink.”
Ethan Bolinger


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 8, 2014 03:43PM Published Jan 13, 2014 12:25PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.