Port Edward | Algonquin, IL
Set Sail for a Dining Adventure
Calling itself ‘a nautical adventure in Algonquin, Illinois,’ Port Edward delivers on its promise, bringing seafaring themes and a colonial New England atmosphere to a far northwest suburb of Chicago. Founded in 1964, Port Edward is the brainchild of sole proprietor Edward Wolowiec, a Renaissance man whose love for food, artistry, music, and architecture led him to design and construct his namesake restaurant.
The restaurant began as a 50’ x 70’ space with a small bar. Today, Port Edward is an 18,000 square-foot dining destination with seating for nearly 450 people. The Salem Lounge (main bar) and Topside View (second-story dining room) both offer gorgeous panoramic scenes of the Fox River. In the summer, the location adds spectacular riverside dining on the patio, seating nearly 100 additional guests. Among the various memorabilia and antiques on display are lobster traps, harpoons, diving helmets, wood buoys, refurbished WWII Liberty Ship hatches and even a 25-foot sailboat (with seating for dinner!) floating in a Koi pond. Every weekend, musicians add a tuneful accompaniment to the many weddings, showers, birthdays, painting parties and other special events hosted at the restaurant.
With seafood as a specialty, Port Edward offers numerous crab and lobster dishes including the longtime customer favorite, Lobster Edwardo: beer battered medallions of lobster that are deep fried to perfection. Other signature items include hotelier, bouillabaisse, steward’s choice and many excellent fish and steak entrees. “We try to have something for everyone and are very open to working with guests to customize dishes,” explains Charles Kaskadden, general manager.
Because the restaurant has been around for more than five decades, many guests have become longtime friends, bringing in new family members and neighbors throughout the years. “We’ve literally watched a child grow up, become a parent and then a grandparent,” said Charles. With the advent of social media and the creation of a lively Birthday Club list, Port Edward now connects with more than 55,000 individuals online and on mobile phone. “Facebook and text messaging clubs have been vastly more successful than traditional marketing through newspapers and magazines,” explained Charles.
For Port Edward, staying competitive with restaurants owned by corporate entities has presented the greatest challenge. “We’ve certainly had to adapt to changing demographics and preferences while offering economical pricing,” said Charles. “The biggest lesson we’ve learned is to never let our success dictate our future. One must constantly anticipate challenges and potential issues and work hard to plan and budget accordingly to manage that change.”
To his credit, Charles says it’s the staff who are responsible for the ongoing success of this unique restaurant. “From the culinary crew to our servers to the front of the house staff and the management team, it’s a combination like no other.” Popular employee programs, including sales incentives and “top dog” contests, strike an ideal balance of camaraderie and friendly competition among staff.
“Our biggest asset is our people. Staff and customers. Without a doubt,” said Charles.