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Supper Clubs

The Pyramid Supper Club,
located east of Beaver Dam
(Dodge County), as it
appeared in 1993. Courtesy
of the Wisconsin Historical
Society, Jim Draeger.

The first American Supper Club was established in Beverly Hills, California, by Milwaukee native Lawrence Frank.  His menu included prime rib, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, sweet peas, and Yorkshire pudding, which became staples in the established supper club menu.  Frank also introduced the "doggie bag" to the dining-out culture.  Supper clubs were typically based on themes and geared towards tourists and servicemen.  Exotic, ethnic, and nautical themes were popular in Wisconsin.  Buildings were designed to stand out and attract attention.  Supper clubs became a popular dining-out option and thrived even during periods of rationing.  Many were operated in conjunction with resorts, or were located in proximity to vacation areas and along popular highways.

Roadside Highlight:   Marty's Showboat Supper Club

Marty's Showboat Supper Club,
Three Lakes, Oneida County.
Courtesy of Jim Draeger,
personal collection.

Marty's Showboat Supper Club operated in conjunction with the Northernaire Resort, located on the banks of Deer and Big Stone Lake in Three Lakes (Oneida County).  Brothers Carl Jr. and Bob Marty of Monroe, Wisconsin, established the 3,000-acre luxury resort in 1946-1947.  Professional baseball player and Three Lakes resident Cy Williams was responsible for the design of Marty's Showboat.  The exterior has the appearance of a boat with a rounded bow, a second-story deck, and porthole windows.  In addition to the Showboat, the complex originally featured a main hotel (demolished in 1995), four villas designed as boathouse replicas, and a golf course.  The Northernaire was a popular destination for Chicago residents and visitors to the Three Lakes area.  The Showboat currently serves as the clubhouse for the Big Stone Lake Golf Course.

Roadside Highlight: The Gobbler Motel and Supper Club

The Gobbler Motel and Supper Club were constructed along I-94 in Johnson Creek (Jefferson County) during the 1960s.  The supper club was located in a separate building across the road from the motel.   Wisconsin architect Helmut Ajango designed the buildings.  According to a brochure for the complex, "The Gobbler Supper Club, the only one of its kind in all the world, was conceived to enhance the role of Tom Turkey as the all-American delicacy.  The building's rotunda design permits dramatic use of natural lava stone to simulate ruffled turkey feathers and windows form the 'eyes of the Gobbler.'"  Both buildings were similar in appearance and interior design, utilizing pink and purple shag carpeting and bold lines.

The Gobbler Supper Club
as it appeared in 2002.
Note the "eye of the Gobbler"
window and the abstract
carport that represents a beak.
Courtesy of Jim Draeger,
personal collection.
The Gobbler Supper Club was divided into two different dining areas - the Lavender Room and the Gobbler Gallery - that could accommodate 350 dinner guests.  A rotating bar that made a full circle every 80 minutes was the central feature of the building.  The Royal Roost Cocktail Lounge was an elevated area that overlooked the restaurant and provided dancing and entertainment.  The original restaurant closed in the 1980s and several others have tried unsuccessfully to operate in the building.  The most recent incarnation, the New Gobbler, closed in the summer of 2002.

The Gobbler Motel was a round building with an open central courtyard.  Rooms had exterior and interior entrances and offered the traveler modern conveniences, such as a television or phone built into the bed and eight-track and cassette players.  The majority of the rooms had shag carpeting on the floor and walls and featured modern furnishings such as "floating" chairs and round beds.  An entertainment room located at the center of the complex included a swimming pool and game room.  Along with the Gobbler Supper Club, the complex offered the motorist the most modern conveniences in a unique atmosphere.   Unfortunately, the Gobbler Motel was razed in 2001.

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