Wisconsin Supper Clubs
An Old-Fashioned Experience
Published by: Agate Publishing
248 Pages, Colored photographs and ephemera throughout
- Published: November 2023
Supper club guru Ron Faiola is back with updated chronicles and beautiful new photographs from the clubs that captured the attention of readers in Wisconsin Supper Clubs, and also features several new venues shaking up this midwestern tradition.
Wisconsin Supper Clubs, Second Edition is a resource for and about supper clubs throughout Wisconsin that includes charming photographs of the unique supper club interiors, proprietors, and customers, as well as fascinating archival materials. Also recorded in this book are the regional specialties served at these clubs, ranging from popovers and fried pickles in the northern part of the state to Shrimp de Jonghe in the south. One Northwoods supper club even features fry bread, a traditional Native American dish uncommon to most restaurants.
In this updated second edition, Faiola revisits many of the clubs across the Dairy State that starred in his first edition, recording their struggles and triumphs in the years following widespread pandemic shutdowns. New to this edition are fifteen extra clubs that have entered the scene in the past decade, striving to be a part of this custom that is hugely popular with Wisconsin locals and regularly frequented by all midwestern foodies in the know.
The "supper club experience" is a tradition embodied by many long-standing restaurants scattered throughout the small towns of Wisconsin. It is based around a bygone idea that going out to dinner should be an experience that lasts an entire evening, emphasizing food made from scratch, slow-paced dining, and family-run businesses. Combine this with stately dark-panel decor, complimentary relish trays, and the best brandy old-fashioned sweet you'll ever have, and you have barely scratched the surface of the Wisconsin supper club's appeal.
Praise for Ron Faiola, his documentary, and his book WISCONSIN SUPPER CLUBS: AN OLD-FASHIONED EXPERIENCE:
"A glorious look at a Wisconsin tradition, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience [is] a glossy 225-page book that just might make your mouth water." —William Hagemen, Chicago Tribune
"[A] compelling, delightful and—not to make too much of it—important documentary.... Ron Faiola [is] a genius filmmaker." —Rick Kogan
"Ron Faiola is passionate about food. He is the author of Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience, a coffee table book chronicling the unique Wisconsin tradition of the supper club.... Faiola put 5,000 miles on his car traveling to every corner of the state to capture the timeless charm of the supper club." —BizTimes Milwaukee
“Prime rib, Friday night fish frys, and relish trays are the stuff of legend in Wisconsin.... But the supper club is a relic, so [author Ron Faiola] is hoping to bring them back into fashion...[Wisconsin Supper Clubs] documents 50 of the states most enduring time capsules.” —Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7 News, Chicago
“A beautiful book...you read this book and not only does your mouth start watering, but you start thinking kind of expansively [about] weekend getaway opportunities.... I heartily endorse it.” —Bill Moller, WGN Radio
"Faiola went to [great lengths to] get the right shots for his coffee-table book, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience. He spent 10 weeks on the road last year, traversing the state to visit dozens upon dozens of the state's emblematic restaurants." —Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
"Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience is a mouthwatering tour of rarefied restaurants from another era that has me thinking of excursions northward." —Peter Exley, Chicago Reader
"Ron Faiola has become Wisconsin's legacy filmmaker." —David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee
"Wisconsin-native Ron Faiola recently released a book—Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience—which showcases some of the finest supper clubs in the state and shows why supper clubs are such a big part of Wisconsin's food culture." —State Senator Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin’s 12th Senate District
"Faiola’s book goes behind the scenes at 50 Dairy State restaurants, offering photos, stories, and his take on each of the clubs." —Wisconsin State Journal
"In his new book Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience, writer/filmmaker Ron Faiola...traveled across Wisconsin and profiled 50 Supper Clubs...hallmarks include brandy Old Fashioneds, Friday night fish fry, prime rib, relish trays, lake views, taxidermy, glowing vintage beer lights, Packers paraphernalia, and more." —Paula Forbes, Eater.com, National page
"Milwaukee filmmaker Ron Faiola has made an homage to the throwback restaurants to our north that are very much alive and well." —Joanne Trestrail, Crain’s Chicago Business
"The book treats each club, about fifty in all, to a few pages of text about the experience, complimented with a generous serving of pictures that are equal parts Americana and food porn.... It’s easy to see how people get inspired to take eating tours of Wisconsin.” —Dave Robson, Daily XY
PRAISE FOR THE WISCONSIN SUPPER CLUB TRADITION:
"I fell in love with these restaurants long before I’d ordered my first cocktail, and for good reason: the food was always tasty—supper clubs were doing custom-cut dry-aged steaks long before the practice became an urban fetish—and the vibe was always pure Wisconsin gemütlichkeit, leavened by a lively mix of locals and vacationing families." —David McAninch, New York Times
"Supper clubs are a classic Wisconsin summer experience and I try to find a few new ones each year. I associate them with lake country, brandy old fashioneds, relish trays, baked potatoes and prime rib." —Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Fortunately though, a few of Wisconsin’s supper clubs remain, and many restaurateurs have kept the traditions alive.... The common denominator in today’s notion of a supper club is simple American cuisine.... For the most part, gone are the days when a supper club meant an entire night out: a lounge with high-backed booths, highballs at low-ball prices, a piano bar, an orchestra, and a dance floor. It’s still possible, however, to listen to jazz piano or fox trot to Sinatra at some of Wisconsin’s ritzier supper clubs. And the one thing that’s never gone out of style, of course, is simply prepared great food." —Brenda K. Bredahl, TravelWisconsin.com