Mark Twain, the celebrated American author also known as Samuel Clemens, once said, when reading his erroneous obituary in 1897, “The report of my death is greatly exaggerated.”
Many once-popular restaurant trends that took a downward spiral could say the same thing. Everybody, after all, loves a good comeback story. Like Y2K fashion, smiley faces, and flowy dresses, the restaurant industry has seen the resurgence of concepts and menu items once considered outdated. Let’s explore some of the latest old-fashioned trends.
It wasn’t long ago that diners rarely asked about the origins of their food. Those times have changed, and that’s where heritage meats come in. Heritage meats are purebred breeds, whether turkey, pork, beef, or lamb. They lost popularity in the commodities market because they could not be adapted to industrial standards.
These animals are not confined, eat a natural diet, and are free from growth hormones. And that’s why the latest generation, interested in the planet’s health and those who inhabit it, is creating a resurgence in heritage meats. They are raised humanely, are more nutritious and flavorful, and contribute to agricultural diversity.
The Supper Club
Supper clubs were, at one time, the mainstay of midcentury dining in the Midwest. The roots of these unique establishments go back to Prohibition in the 1920s. Their heyday lasted about 40 years before the business model started changing. But, thanks to today’s socially minded individuals looking for an experience and a bit of nostalgia, they’ve made a resurgence.
Wisconsin may well be considered the capital of supper clubs. It’s about enjoying conversations with friends and strangers and sharing food in a dimly lit interior. Many guests will be drinking an Old Fashioned, made the old-fashioned way. Expect wood paneling, plush, semi-circular booths, and relish trays.
The Elias Inn Supper Club in Watertown has been carrying on the tradition since 1935. The Duck Inn supper club in Delavan got its name as a speakeasy when guests used to “duck in” for a drink during the Prohibition era.
Of course, you’ll find these establishments throughout the nation. The Turk’s Inn was brought to life in 1934 in Hayward, Wisconsin. The legendary supper club took you to another world in a lush Arabesque setting, with belly dancers and live peacocks roaming the grounds. In 2015, two long-time patrons took the contents of the establishment and moved it to Bushwick, Brooklyn, to ensure its spirit is kept alive.
Two supper clubs found in Chicago are The St. Clair Supper Club, part of the Alinea Group, and Untitled. Untitled’s Prohibition-era design is located in an 18,000-square-foot restaurant, bar, and live entertainment space. Today, as in the roaring 20s, you can also find exclusive supper clubs for members only.
While this experiential dining category was never really dying, it has definitely been on the upswing for some time, kicked into overdrive by the unexpected effects of the pandemic. Dining out with friends in a nice restaurant is no longer enough, at least for some. They want to be surprised, exhilarated, and left with an unforgettable memory.
One of the venues on the horizon that promises to deliver an exhilarating ride is F1 Arcade. The experiential concept combines the excitement and glamour of Formula 1 racing with world-class food and cocktails. It recently opened in London and is expected to make its way across the pond very soon.
Adventurous diners can also enjoy their dinner 18 feet below sea level in Norway’s extreme dining experience at the aptly named restaurant, Under. Guests find themselves in the Norwegian marine ecosystem, eating fresh seafood while enjoying a panoramic view of the North Atlantic Ocean.
At EMERGING, we’re excited to be a part of the industry’s top restaurant and entertainment concepts. As an extension of the operator’s team, we evaluate expansion strategies and real estate nationwide, negotiating with landlords and developers. Our many divisions may also support them in supply chain management, labor solutions, optimizing menus, and finance. A few of our many valued clients include F1 Arcade, Flight Club, Federales, and Silverspot Cinema. To learn more about joining our team or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.
What states have the most supper clubs?
Wisconsin claims the most supper clubs, by far, with over 300 of them and counting.
What is competitive socializing?
As the name implies, these trending establishments combine a bit of socializing with friendly competition. F1 Arcade is one of the newest experiential entertainment concepts and was started by Adam Breeden, one of the pioneers in social entertainment venues.