My husband and I went to look at some property last night and while we were out we came upon a rural restaurant and decided to stop. The place is locally famous for an All-You-Can-Eat broasted chicken. The first time I heard that made up word I thought what the heck does that mean? Your first thought is a cross between broiled and roasted, right? Nope, it’s cooked in a pressure fryer. Makes no sense.
We were given a table and our dinners came immediately after. The server came back shortly after and asked if we wanted more of anything. It was good, albeit a little heavy. I can’t imagine anyone having that meal All-You-Can-Eat.
Mind you, this is a restaurant on a back-country, secondary road. Advertising is by word of mouth. When we arrived, very few people were there. That was to change minutes later. Before we were a quarter of the way through our meal the dinner crowd came in. So many, at first I thought they’d come on a tour bus. Mostly older people and most dressed up for the experience. Dressing up seemed out of place given the decor of the place leaned heavily on chicken tchotchkes. My husband speculated that the restaurant must have been a Supper Club at one time and dressing for dinner there was just habit. I had heard of the term supper club, but that’s as far as my knowledge went. The only image I had in my head was a Diner’s Club card.
Curious, I went searching for answers. Of course I did. 😀
If nothing else I’ll discover interesting details for future stories. You never know when some piece of trivia or another will create that perfect spark and fit a storyline. There wasn’t much to find, however I did learn a few things.
Supper Clubs were more common in the upper Midwest than elsewhere in the country and in some places they’re still going strong. Apparently the modern Great Lakes fish boil is an old Supper Club remnant. The states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan have more Supper Clubs than anywhere else. They’re also in the UK.
This type of dining establishment sprang up in the 1930’s and 1940’s. One reference I came across has them tied to speakeasies too and that would be earlier still. I can’t vouch for that, though. I have a three primary source rule for historic details. Show me three independent sources for info and we’re good.
However they were, Supper Clubs were meant to be an all night affair. You dressed up, came for cocktails, had a nice but inexpensive meal of prime rib, steaks, chicken, or fish, then danced the night away. In rural America this opportunity for a nightlife was a big deal.
I left thinking how much we’ve lost. Victorians of moderate means dressed for dinner, even if that dinner was made in your own kitchen. People were still sprucing themselves up for dinner in the 1950’s and 60’s. How casual we’ve become. Meal times were social events. They gave the family time to connect with one another and share the happenings of their day. Families now are lucky if they can manage to all sit down at once.
I recall dinner with all family members in attendance and me sitting on the phone book so I could reach the table. I don’t recall dressing for dinner, but you’d better have washed your hands before you sat down to say grace.
On topic, my older sister always wore a particular dress when we had liver. Ugh..even thinking about that brings an olfactory memory of it broiling. *shudder* Her dress had a sash; a perfect pocket to hide a nasty piece of liver. She’d ask to be excused and would take her sash-concealed organ meat to the toilet. Oh the night the liver wouldn’t flush…
For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
There are 54 entries to come.
Here’s a cliché for today:
All dressed up and nowhere to go
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