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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not Just a Hotel Restaurant

The Anchorage marks 40 years of delicious dining

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You’ve passed that red-lettered sign hundreds of times on I-43 near Bayshore Mall, or maybe celebrated a special event in the well-appointed dining room. The Anchorage (4700 N. Port Washington Road) has been a Milwaukee mainstay since the 1970s. Opened 40 years ago this May, The Anchorage is one of the city’s longest-running restaurants.

Although attached to the Milwaukee River Hilton, The Anchorage was never just a hotel restaurant. When it first opened, The Anchorage was well known for its high-end seafood and steak dinners. “It was a different time,” says General Manager Michael Dietrich. “Our customers back then would come dressed for a formal meal in a traditional setting.” It’s one of the perceptions they’ve been trying to change since Dietrich took over nearly four years ago. Dietrich recognized what the restaurant had been and what it could be again. He set about making updates to the menu and bringing the decor up to date to appeal to a more contemporary crowd. After a $250,000 remodel in 2011, including the addition of a beautiful patio with river views, a paint job and new carpeting, the venue has a more casual, modern feel.

The menu changed around the same time as the remodeling. Diners will still find lots of fresh seafood, but now the steaks are from Allen Brothers, a well-known supplier that sells to top-notch restaurants in Chicago. Salads and lighter fare are also available, as well as such Anchorage classics as their famous red snapper soup. “When I cross paths with Joe Bartolotta, who worked at The Anchorage before he opened his first restaurant, he’s always trying to get the recipe for our signature soup,” jokes Dietrich.

Perhaps one reason for the success of The Anchorage these 40 years has been the core of dedicated staff. Sous Chef Will Gulley and Food and Beverage Manager Sandy Samenfeld have been with the restaurant since 1975. Executive Chef Jerry Taylor has been at it since 1983, while Dietrich came aboard 11 years ago. “We have a lot of pride in what we do here and feel like we make a good foundation for the restaurant,” says Dietrich.

Ahead is a change of ownership for the hotel and restaurant later this year. Dietrich feels confident that the new owners already recognize the important asset The Anchorage provides for the hotel. “Our customers can rest assured that the corporate flag may change outside, but The Anchorage will remain the same great place,” says Dietrich.

For more information, visit milwaukeeriver.hilton.com.