About us

Our history

In early 1900s Wisconsin, between Fond du Lac and Oshkosh in the town of Van Dyne, there was an icehouse supplying ice to the rural farming community. In 1942, William Karpathian purchased the property and began Karpathian’s Tavern. Twenty years later, in 1962, Fritz and Cynthia Wendt bought it, transforming it into Wendt’s Bar. They existed for the hunters, fishermen, and farmers of the surrounding community. It was, and is, a place for friends and family to tell a few tales and share a few good memories over an Old Fashion or local brew. On Fridays, Fritz and Cynth would set up a few folding tables and chairs and serve a 99 cent perch dinner for their Friday Night Fish fry.

Word spread, and soon the folding tables became permanent, and Wendt’s Bar became much more.

Fritz and Cynthia Wendt eventually sold the business to their son and daughter-in-law Mike and Linda Wendt in 1978. It evolved from a lakeside icehouse, to a bar, and it is now well-known as Wendt’s on the Lake.

In 1993, Linda Wendt became sole proprietor of Wendt’s on the Lake, building upon their now famous fish fry to create a menu featuring Saturday prime rib, BBQ pork ribs, and the popular batter-fried lobster. Presently she and her children, Shawn and Ann, work side-by-side to serve the local community, as well as their fans across the country.

Linda’s children are the third generation of Wendts overseeing the restaurant, and it is their mission to maintain Linda’s focus on quality food and exceptional service. We also continue to wholeheartedly support the hunters and fishermen who helped to make Wendt’s a destination restaurant. Often, guests of the restaurant can witness the fourth generation of Wendts, Shawn and Ann’s children, following in the footsteps of their parents.

We’ve come a long way

Then & Now

We offer casual dining and a full-service bar, as well as outdoor seating in the summer to accommodate visitors from around the country who visit the region seeking a traditional taste of Wisconsin. Winter also brings many new visitors to the restaurant, when Wendt’s becomes the hub for sturgeon spearing for the entire nation.

People tell us all the time that when they come back home from wherever they’ve moved in the world, Wendt’s is their first stop to get their perch fix. That’s why we do what we do, and why we are committed to keeping our food exactly how people remember it.

Over the last five decades we’ve built a national reputation for the area’s best-tasting Fish Fry. But while our perch has made us famous, it is our family that makes us proud. We continue to follow a high standard of service and quality while using only the finest ingredients to ensure every meal we serve is delicious and genuinely satisfying. We invite you to visit our restaurant and experience our Famous Lake Perch for yourself.

Try it for yourself

Voted the Area's Best Tasting Fish Fry

winnebago county 2021

Best of Winnebago County (Fish Fry): 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

Readers Choice (Fish Fry): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

Linda Wendt: 2019 WRA Salute to Excellence Restaurateur Award, 2009 Wisconsin Restaurant Association Chairwoman of the Board, WRA Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year, Lake to Lake Chapter 1995 & 2009 Wisconsin Restaurant Association Restaurateur of the Year 2006