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The resurgence of the supper club

A new generation of restaurant patrons is fueling the renaissance of the supper club. KARE's Julie Nelson and Belinda Jensen went "supper club hopping" to see why.

ST PAUL, Minn. — At a time when many restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open, St. Paul's newest supper club, the Apostle, can hardly handle all the people coming through its doors.

Supper clubs, owner Brian Ingram said, are outperforming restaurants in general right now.

That's also true for the Apostle, which is quickly becoming a hot spot in the restaurant scene. And while Ingram has opened seven restaurants total, the Apostle is his first supper club. 

Indianhead Supper Club in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, is also a prime example. Indianhead opened in 1939 during the golden age of supper clubs when hundreds of them popped up in rural areas across the Midwest. Known for offering guests made-from-scratch food, stiff drinks and live entertainment, these supper clubs became cultural staples.

Jeff Potts, the new owner of Indianhead, quickly learned that his clientele savored that nostalgia.

“The number one thing I heard when we bought this restaurant is, 'Don't change anything,'” Potts said. “'We love this restaurant. Please don't change.' And we haven't."

Ingram wanted the Apostle to have the same vintage feel as those classic supper clubs. He obsessed over every detail, from the glassware and plates to the silverware and light fixtures. A lot of work went into making his brand-new space feel like a grandparent's house.

Then there’s Wiederholts Supper Club near Hastings, Minnesota, which is literally grandma and grandpa’s place. Started by Harriet and Sy Wiederholt in 1958, it’s now run by their grandchildren, the brother and sister team of Jesse Wiederholt and Jenny Pine. They serve up the supper club staples like big slabs of prime rib, relish trays and ample sides, along with iconic boozy ice cream drinks like the grasshopper and Brandy Alexander.

But if there is a star of the supper club resurgence, it is undoubtedly the old-fashioned. Bartender Becca Palm at Indianhead says the renewed passion for the old-fashioned is part of a bigger trend with young people who want to try all the old supper club classics.

"I definitely have noticed a lot more younger people last year, and they're drinking old-fashioneds. They're getting experimental with their old-fashioneds and they want to know what the old supper club drinks, like the old Harvey Wallbangers and the Manhattans and all of that,” she said.

Social media is helping a whole new generation discover the supper club experience. There are now countless TikTok videos and Instagram posts promoting "supper club hopping" as a hip, new hobby.

And what they find when they arrive is that an evening at a supper club involves more than just a meal. It’s about settling in, enjoying a drink at the bar, a made-from-scratch meal and, oftentimes, live entertainment.

That invitation to relax and stay awhile might be the most important ingredient in the supper club resurgence.

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