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Another tasty helping of Wisconsin supper clubs
Book details 50 favorite restaurants throughout the state

By KATHERINE MICHALETS - Freeman Staff

July 14, 2016

 
             

Dobie’s Restaurant & Lounge is located at 4136 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in St. Francis, and is owned by Dale and Julie Doberstein. It’s one of 50 restaurants in “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round.”

WAUKESHA - While cheese, beer and Harleys may be the most highlighted parts of the Wisconsin identity, the state’s character also includes the supper club, which has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, in part due to Ron Faiola’s books and documentary on the subject.

This year, he released a second book: “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round” published by Midway.

Faiola recently took a few minutes out of his book tour around the state to discuss his newest book, which is a sequel to “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience.”

He said that when the first book was published in 2013, people were already asking for another helping.

“As soon as the first book came out, people said you have got to do a second one,” Faiola said, adding they would comment that he hadn’t included that person’s restaurant or that person’s favorite supper club in the book.

Originally, Faiola said he was going to include 100 supper clubs in the first book, but culled it to 50. That left 50 for “Another Round.”

The books are in response to Faiola’s documentary, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs - An Old-Fashioned Experience” released in 2013 and appearing on PBS stations. His other projects have included the documentaries “Fish Fry Night Milwaukee” and “Tilt-A-Whirls, Cowbells and Beer,” a summer tour of church festivals in southeastern Wisconsin.

The popularity of the supper club documentary and books is because of people’s affection for the restaurants often known for their prime ribs and brandy old-fashioneds.

“It is because people go to these places and they like reading about the places they go to and they also like to find places new to them,” Faiola said.

He said he has found that many people are making specific trips for the weekend or a whole week to visit supper clubs featured in the books. Once at those businesses, they then ask the owners to autograph Faiola’s book.

One couple he met is about 30 years old and has been to about 40 of the supper clubs featured. They told Faiola that while they didn’t grow up as part of the supper club culture, they have gotten into it as they have gotten older.

For those featured in the books, Faiola said he has heard business has increased for them, and often they sell the book. He gave the example of Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton. The owner was hesitant to be in the documentary, but after agreeing to it and it being aired, the demand was so great for the supper club’s signature lobster boil they went from doing it three times each summer to 10 times.

A few of the supper clubs featured in the first book have since closed, but Faiola said he tries hard to pick places to feature that aren’t on the border of going out of business.

He also collects ideas from his trips around the state for promoting the books, although he doesn’t have any  stops planned for the metro Milwaukee area soon.

“People are really enthusiastic about supper clubs and the information I am providing at these presentations is new to these people. They didn’t know the history and so on. I like getting out there and talking about in addition to reading the book,” Faiola said.

The supper clubs featured from southeastern Wisconsin include Dobie’s Steak House in St. Francis; Danny’s Girl Supper Club in Watertown; Edgewater Supper Club in Jefferson; Five O’Clock Steakhouse in Milwaukee; and Walden Supper Club in West Bend.

Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com