What do you picture when you think of “supper clubs"? Pin-stripe-adorned gangsters with moonshine in a dimly-lit lounge during the prohibition era?
Most of us pass Wisconsin’s original backroad supper clubs on a daily basis and can’t fathom the surprising history behind each one (the fact that they were once a hot spot hideout for gangsters in the 1920s somehow didn’t cross my mind). Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and liquor licenses were granted to country establishments that served food; thus, the “supper club.”
Visit some of the Discover Wisconsin crew’s favorite supper clubs, enjoy great food, drinks and atmosphere, and think twice about the previous goings-on at your table.
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Once a favorite of Al Capone, Norwood Pines Supper Club overlooks Patricia Lake and is a favorite hangout and banquet site among locals, despite the supposed “regular,” a ghost named Edgar.
Stop by and enjoy their famous dinner entrees while taking in the view of whitetail deer grazing among the red pines.
– Teddy Maier, Cinematographer
Built in 1937 and with a past littered by gambling operations, the 1930s murder of a night watchman and a 1970s fire, the Plantation Supper Club is not short on history.
Thankfully, nothing quite as noteworthy has happened since its rebuilding, and guests today enjoy the prime rib special, the New York strip and the Friday fish fry.
– Kristen Finstad, Public Relations & Social Media
Still littered with bullet holes, a suitcase, clothes and Ex-Lax tablets from the John Dillinger Gang (FBI escapees involved in the 1934 shootout), Little Bohemia Lodge is an ever-popular lunch and dinner spot, which also happens to be the site of some scenes from the film Public Enemies.
Today, guests from near and far enjoy specialties like Bohemian Pavos, Canadian Walleye, Pork Schnitzel and Old World Pork Shank.
– Amy Wallace, Producer
Ishnala, meaning “By Itself Alone” in the language of the Winnebago people, was purchased from the Native American tribe in 1826, started as a log cabin trading post and became what it is today in 1953.
The supper club is nestled in Mirror Lake State Park and serves guests favorite dishes like Chicken Cordon Bleu, BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs and Filet Mignon. A Public Enemies car chase featuring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger also was filmed near the historic restaurant.
– Mariah Haberman, Host
The Discover Wisconsin crew shared just a few of our favorite supper clubs in Wisconsin … now it’s your turn! Comment below or chime in on social media: #discoverwisconsin. And be sure to check out more of Wisconsin's historic supper clubs!
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Growing up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. She enjoys nothing more than catching a Packers, Brewers or Badgers game, indulging in a cheese curd or 12, and traveling from corner to corner of this great state. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)