SHEBOYGAN — In our Two America’s series, we show you areas of southeast Wisconsin you may not see every day, but might relate to the obstacles they face.
Right where the Sheboygan River meets Lake Michigan was The Duke of Devon, which closed last month after 16 years.
The restaurant made it through the pandemic, but was forced to close their doors for good because of staffing shortages.
“The funny thing was 'The Duke' was doing quite well,” said owner Stefano Viglietti.
It still pains Viglietti to say he had to close his English-style pub. Not because of the pandemic, but because there was no one to hire.
“People were just walking away, and that never really happened before. Every day there was something that had to be filled. A cook went down, or someone else went out, so we had to rob Peter to pay Paul. So when you see a factory starting wages are 20 or 25 dollars an hour, for a restaurant, you'll go out of business. Quick.”
For now, his remaining loyal workers from ‘The Duke of Devon’ are at his other restaurants, Trattaria Stefano and Il Ritrovo.
He is taking the time now to remodel the place by the summer. “But we're not quite sure what yet. But a lot of good ideas are flying around," he said.
Meanwhile in the heart of downtown Sheboygan, he is building an 8,000-square-foot grocery store. It will be called Slo Food Market. Inside you can see they are brainstorming foods for their meat and made-to-order section.
Viglietti beamed, “I always wanted to do something in my town where I live to make my town better.”
This includes offering a variety of delicacies. “We brought in a 400-pound pig, a whole steer. We bought five lambs. That really drives us. It’s local, sustainable and growing our community through food," said Viglietti.
His hope is that these ventures will pay off for his workers and the Sheboygan Community as a whole for generations to come. “We've been so blessed in our lives, we've been given so much that I think we owe this to everybody to stay and fight," Viglietti said.
Click here to learn more about Viglietti’s famed restaurants. He is proud to say the family-owned business did not lay off a single person through this entire pandemic.