What’s a Supper Club, and why are they a Wisconsin phenomenon, you may ask. Heck. I ask the same question. Sister Number 2 and her boyfriend have made Friday night Supper Club visits a “thing” for them, and many a time, at the folks’ kitchen table, Supper Clubbing has been a topic of conversation when my Atlanta brother and sister-in-law visit the farm.
So, to answer the question, a Supper Club is a restaurant, mostly family-owned, which features Friday night Fish Fry, steak dinners, and cocktails. The traditional cocktails being Old Fashioneds, Martinis, and Manhattans. That sounds sort of 1950’s-ish, and not that unique, but for some reason, Supper Clubs are a big deal here.
Supper Clubs didn’t even originate in Wisconsin. According to my Google research, the first Supper Club was begun in Beverly Hills, California by a Milwaukee native in the 1920’s. Before that, they actually began as Speakeasys to cover up serving alcohol during Prohibition, and flourished in the 50’s. I actually remember Friday nights at the Log Cabin, owned by my classmate, Melvin Silver’s family in Indianapolis, Indiana, though I didn’t know then I was in a Supper Club. I’d get my Shirley Temple, and my mother would get her Martinis. It was the way to begin a weekend. That was years and years ago, though.
Last night, Sister Number 1 and her date took me to The Green Lantern for dinner. When we hung our coats up, it dawned on me that I was about to have a cultural experience. In North Carolina, we just flop our coats over the back of our chairs. Here in “cold country,” the coats are too thick and heavy to be comfortable clumped up behind us, and the tables are too close together to allow for the extra space taken by outerwear. People arrived in couples and groups, the wait-staff was fast-paced, and the background conversations were loud and lively.
While we all passed on the cocktails, we did enjoy a glass of wine or beer and the Friday Fish and steak. I have to say, there is a definite “atmosphere” that makes it a whole different kind of dining event. Though there is nothing really that unique, inexplicably, it is. Maybe it’s the cold, the frozen lake with the ice fishermen and their shacks, or the glow of the holiday lights, festivity reigns. It was like going back in time, and for me, that was a very sweet trip.