Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview on a topic of local interest.
What made you decide to bring back The Lakely’s Supper Club Celebration for a second year?
Our inaugural run at this event in 2018 was more successful than we ever thought possible, to the point where we were entirely filled up for 10 straight days. Unfortunately, that also means that we heard from lots of folks who had wanted to come in and partake but couldn’t, so of course we had to do it again to make sure everyone has a chance to participate.
But perhaps moreso, the event itself was just extremely cool. It’s an amazingly unique thing and, at what is otherwise a rather dull time for the restaurant business, has become one of our most exciting events of the year.
What’s the main premise of the event?
At The Lakely, we’re all about embodying and elevating the things that make our little corner of the world here in Wisconsin special in terms of dining and drinking.
Of course, the traditional supper clubs of our region have been one of the most easily recognizable parts of that heritage. But since our restaurant isn’t — and physically couldn’t be — a supper club all of the time, we decided that a really interesting way to pay homage to the legacy of Wisconsin supper clubs would be to just transform ourselves into one for a small period of time. And so, we completely change our menus, our décor, our style of service and, heck, even our servers/bartenders names, for a fixed amount of time, to become the supper club of our dreams.
But what doesn’t change — and this is what we feel sets our temporary supper club apart from many of the modern era — is our commitment to utilizing as many ingredients as possible from local, sustainable farms and producers. It’s basically doing a traditional supper club menu but with the very best ingredients that we can source here in Wisconsin. Of course, there are still some seafood options and other ingredients from afar, but it’s primarily a celebration of our local culinary identity using local ingredients.
How will the event be different this year?
First and foremost, this year will be different because we’ll be doing it for an extra four days so that folks will have a full fortnight to get a chance to come in and experience it.
Beyond that, one of the biggest changes is that we’ll also be utilizing other spaces here at The Oxbow to dive even deeper into our supper club makeover. For example, we are temporarily transforming our Gallery space into an old game room, complete with a pool table, video games, etc., along with some extra space to sit around and play a game of cribbage. As a child, this was as an important a part of the supper club experience as any for me, so we thought it would be cool to recreate that, not just for kids, but also just as a way of giving folks a chance to come in, grab an old-fashioned or two and just hang out, even if they don’t have reservations for the evening.
We’ve got a few other small twists and tweaks for folks who come in this year, but we can’t give everything away in advance!
What’s on the menu?
Mostly what you’d expect at any supper club worth a dang. There’s the cheese curds, shrimp cocktails, French onion soup, wedge salads and other traditional starters. Then the freshwater fish, seafood, prime rib, cuts of steak, as well as a host of other entrée options, all of which carry their own Lakely stamp.
Naturally, the bar will also slinging numerous versions of the Old-Fashioned, as well as the other supper club drinks you’d expect like Manhattans, martinis and, of course, a bevy of ice cream drinks! The menu is huge … and somewhat ridiculous.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d just like for people to understand what an insane undertaking all of this is. It’s remarkably rare — and pretty amazing, we think — for a restaurant to completely transform into a different restaurant for two weeks!
And on that note, I’d love to give an advance “thank you” to our staff, whose wonderful talents and willingness to do different things are pretty much the only reason we could even consider pulling off an event of this magnitude!
And also, to our community, a genuine welcome — we cannot wait to share the Supper Club Celebration with you!
— Samantha West, reporter