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Business of the Month: July 2023

Aqualand Ale House



Aqualand Ale House

10450 Main Street
Boulder Junction, WI 54512
Phone: (715) 385-0380
https://www.aqualandalehouse.com/


It was such a pleasure spending time recently with Joel Miner, Owner, Aqualand Ale House, to talk about the history of Aqualand and his passion for providing an exceptional dining and pub experience for our Northwoods residents and tourists. 

How was Aqualand Ale House established? 

Dick and Sue Govier established Aqualand Ale House in 2013. Dick retired from a full-time National Guard career in late 2011 and had a desire to start his own business in northern Wisconsin. Sue’s grandfather, Pat Wilsie, and her father, Bruce Wilsie, started the original Aqualand in 1953 as a roadside attraction animal park.  They were very involved in early tourism in Vilas County. A fun fact that many may not know is that Walt Disney filmed a movie at Aqualand known as “Flash, The Teenage Otter.” 

There are pictures of Sue on the website and at the restaurant showing her at a very young age. Many visitors and residents have very fond memories from visiting Aqualand. Dick and Sue named the business after the old Aqualand in honor of its deep meaning to the local community. They more than doubled the kitchen, brought in a walk-in cooler and freezer, 20 tap beer system and a wood fired pizza oven. 

We purchased the Ale House from Dick and Sue in August of 2021. We’re closing in on our first two years. Anne and I have a house in Presque Isle and the idea of owning the building and running a business in Boulder Junction was very intriguing. Together we have made upgrades to the building and plan on doing more in the next couple years. In life we are just caretakers and we want to make sure the business and the property prosper and grow during our time.

What are your service offerings, and how does this make you stand out from other pubs/restaurants?

We offer a fresh alternative to the many Wisconsin restaurants that include fried foods on the menu. Our staff prides themselves on fast consistent delicious food that is freshly made. I’m very proud of our entire staff. From the chef to our manager and everyone in between, we have one of the best staffed restaurants in the area. Everyone pulls together to make the customer experience pleasant. We offer a very casual and positive atmosphere where children and dogs are welcome on the patio. We also offer a variety of entertainment throughout the year with live music on the stage most weekends in the summer months, and an instructional “Paint and Sip” run by Brandee Cedar Marie. We offer wine tastings and “wine pairing” dinners. Our lineup of 20 craft beers on tap is always changing ensuring the customer will have choices above and beyond the normal beer selection in Wisconsin. I’m not saying we are better than other restaurants in the area, but we are different from the Supper Clubs, fine dining, and bars. Hopefully, the customer walks away happy and full!

How many staff do you have?

Our staff grows from about 15 in the off-season months to 35-40 in the summer months. We hire International J-1 students and employ many part-time workers.

What are your plans for growth?

Our plans for growth include hiring more kitchen staff to enable Aqualand to be open six days a week. Currently, we are open Wednesday thru Saturday. Like many restaurants, finding permanent staff is the biggest obstacle we are facing today. Additionally, we just purchased a customized beer trailer with a self-contained cooling system, generator, and lights. It has five taps on the side with an awning to serve special events, weddings, and parties. We are also in the planning stages of a large renovation on the office side of the building. We will be opening a bakery soon with a new building to house the kitchen, coolers, and staff. The front of the existing building will house the retail space. With these three improvements, Aqualand will be able to continue to grow and offer new and exciting options.

Why do you feel that it's important to give back to the community?

Anne and I have always thought it is important to give back to the community. We have been involved wherever we have lived. From serving on boards, fundraising, donating time, we have tried to always improve the area or community in which we live.  Contributing is contagious and always leads to good things!

What do you enjoy most about living and working in Boulder Junction, Vilas County?

I am really surprised what a tight knit community Boulder Junction is. I’ve found that resources are available, and I’ve met many wonderful people that all have a common goal of serving and helping to make the Northern Wisconsin towns grow and become more successful. What’s fun is meeting all the customers and hearing the fun stories of living and vacationing in the Northwoods.  

Is there anything else that you would like to add? 

I’m excited to see the changes in Aqualand and Boulder Junction over the next several years. There are positive changes happening with other local businesses and the goal is for everyone to succeed.

Congratulations to Aqualand Ale House!


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