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Hard to define but easy to love, the supper club is a hallmark of Wisconsin dining. The Door County supper club scene is as strong as any, and there’s no better time than winter to soak up the cozy environs of these family-focused institutions that have been the center of local life for generations.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious steak, Friday night fish fry, or just a perfectly blended Wisconsin-style brandy old fashioned, Door County's supper clubs will come through with that and much, much more.
These six Door County supper clubs are open throughout the winter, with great food and stories to share.
Family-owned for 53 years, The Mill was originally opened by Minor Dagneau in 1930. Though the Dutch Mill that was its hallmark is long gone, a traditional feel remains. A cozy knotty pine bar features hand-carved sailboats behind the bar, harkening to Sturgeon Bay’s nautical heritage. Don and Shelly Petersilka are the third generation of Petersilkas to own the restaurant. Enjoy a solid Wisconsin old fashioned with the type of friendly service that only comes when you can feel family in a building’s bones.
You know you’ve got a good thing going when people drive well out of their way to find you, and that’s been the case at Donny’s Glidden Lodge for years. Now under the helm of the second generation of Zellner management, locals happily make the trek out to Whitefish Bay to enjoy what many consider some of the best steaks and seafood in Door County.
The stone-walled dining room is impressive, topped only by the views of Lake Michigan you’ll enjoy as you dine. While the Glidden Lodge features modern touches that give it a fine dining feel, the charm of the old school supper club remain, including decades worth of return customers.
Neighborhood bar? Bowling Alley? Supper Club? Check all three at the Sister Bay Bowl, the family-friendly mainstay of Sister Bay that has been in the Willems family since Earl and Rita Willems opened the doors in 1958. Famous for it’s Friday night fish fry that draws more than 700 diners on its busiest nights, “the Bowl,” as it’s known to locals, is a throwback with servers who’ve worked here for decades and a cozy bar complete with the padded rails and wood paneling that are the hallmark of a great supper club.
Bonus - you can brush up on your scoring skills in the bowling alley, where the six lanes still offer only manual scoring.
Owned by the Geitner family, Mr. G’s is an institution tucked beside a creek in rural Sevastopol, about 10 minutes north of Sturgeon Bay on Hwy 57. It’s cozy bar and friendly service have called to locals for generations, and its massive dining hall has hosted some of the largest wedding celebrations on the peninsula.
The Geitner family has deep supper club roots, going back to the days when the parents of owners Bob and Mary Geitner owned another iconic club, the Nightingale in Sturgeon Bay.
In one form or another, the Nightingale has been a favorite hangout and dining establishment in the city since the 1930s. For the last three decades it has been guided by Dave Ripp and his family, serving some of Sturgeon Bay’s best steaks, chicken and fish in the simple, time-honored supper club fashion.
Randy Daubner has been transforming this longtime staple piece by piece since taking it over in 2005. The menu has evolved, as has the look, most prominently marked by two huge metal sculptures of knights on horseback at the front door.
An ever-growing patio and garden welcome diners come summertime (below), but inside the restaurant offers an intimate feel perfect for the end of a cold winter day. The dining room is broken into smaller rooms to break up the cafeteria-like environs of many supper clubs dining halls.
View the full December 2016 Newsletter here.
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