Weasels closes its doors
38 years of pizza in Waupaca
By James Card
No more ingredients were left. The very last pizzas were laid out on a table for customers to help themselves.
Weasels made their first pizzas in September of 1984 and the last ones out of the oven were on Friday, Sept. 30. The bar was packed with people wanting to soak in the atmosphere of a Waupaca landmark and grab a last bite of pizza that in years past was voted as the city’s best.
Gary Holtane established Weasels and he passed away on Oct. 17, 2020. His wife Sharon is 78 years old and their three adult children— – Harris, Joe and Samantha – decided it was time to close their family enterprise. The siblings grew up working in the restaurant business and it was time to move on.
They reached out to a few local business owners about selling and later listed it with a commercial real estate agent. It was purchased by a group of restaurant owners that intend to remodel it and transform it into a Mexican restaurant.
“This is an old building and needs some love. To have someone come in here and be able to do that is great,” said Samantha Enright, the daughter of Gary and Sharon Holtane.
“It is so bittersweet because so many people have worked here: cooks, bartenders, waitresses and delivery,” she said.
On display were old advertisments and a collage of hundreds of old photos taken at Weasels in the pre-digital camera era. On this last night, customers came up, saw some familiar faces, pulled out their smartphones and took photos of the old photos. There were candid pictures of bartenders and wait staff at work, families and regular customers.
There was a display of Gary Holtane with many images of him working on his farm and splitting firewood.
Not only was Weasels known for its pizza but also its lamb kabobs and lamb burgers. Holtane raised sheep with the flock numbering 275 head at one time. The lamb meat was directly sourced from his farm. The restaurant was also known for its chili and Swedish pea soup.
The bar hosted many bands and Elvis appearances, there were karaoke nights and Weasels was known for epic employee Christmas parties.
Holtane believed in giving people second chances and it reflected in the way he hired people.
He started the first pizza delivery service in the Waupaca area and the restaurant was often loaded with sports teams. He sponsored many teams – both youth and adult – and Weasels was their go-to place for pizza parties.
Enright remembers many youths sleeping in the restaurants booths while their parents made the most of their night out.