Nearly 170 supper club enthusiasts packed into the McHenry County Historical Society Museum April 4 to hear author/filmmaker Ron Faiola give his take on what has become a near religion in Wisconsin: Supper clubs.
Having already penned one book on the topic, with a second – "Wisconsin Supper Clubs - Another Round" – hitting the bookstores in June, Ron has traveled to more than 100 of these eatery institutions. They include those just across the Illinois border to those located where "chipmunks have guns."
Supper clubs have become part of our cultural fabric, he said. It is more than food – one pound, cheese-chocked baked potatoes, broiled whitefish and slabs of prime rib aside. It is about getting together with friends over a brandy old-fashioned sweet, about dancing the polka to band members you know on a first-name basis.
It is about the history of back roads, back doors and back-in-the-day decor that inevitably involves twinkling lights, taxidermy, dark wood paneling and creative signage – especially neon – inside and out. One of Ron's favorites is: "No children may be seated at the bar when adults are standing."
During a liberal question-and-answer session, Ron gave his thoughts on what constitutes a supper club.
"Only places that are open for supper. It's not really a supper club if they are serving lunch everyday," he said. "It's like pornography: You know it when you see it."