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Supper club

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Postcard for Larry Potter's Supper Club, North Hollywood, between circa 1930 and circa 1945

A supper club is a traditional dining establishment that also functions as a social club. The term may describe different establishments depending on the region, but in general, supper clubs tend to present themselves as having a high-class image, even if the price is affordable to all. In the 2010s, a newer usage of the term supper club emerged, referring to underground restaurants.[1]

Other names[edit]

Supper clubs, when used in the newer context of underground restaurants, are also known as home bistros, guerrilla diners,[2] secret restaurants, paladares, puertas cerradas, pop-up restaurants, guestaurants, speakeasies, and anti-restaurants.[citation needed]

In the United States[edit]

Village Bar Supper Club 2012 in Wisconsin

In the U.S., a supper club is a dining establishment generally found across the United States, but currently concentrated in the Upper Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas.[3]


The first supper club in the United States was established in Beverly Hills, California, by Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Lawrence Frank.[3] Supper clubs became popular during the 1930s and 1940s, although some establishments that later became supper clubs had previously gained notoriety as prohibition roadhouses.[4]

Traditionally, supper clubs were considered a "destination" where patrons would spend the whole evening, from cocktail hour to nightclub-style entertainment after dinner.[5] Featuring a casual and relaxed atmosphere,[5] they are now usually just restaurants rather than the all-night entertainment destinations of the past.[6]

Typical menu[edit]

Supper clubs generally feature simple menus with somewhat limited offerings featuring typical American cuisine.[5] Dishes may include prime rib, steaks, chicken, and fish. An all-you-can-eat Friday night fish fry is particularly common at Wisconsin supper clubs, as are brandy old fashioneds.[6] Relish trays with items such as crackers, cheese, carrots, green onions, pickles, cherry peppers, radishes, and celery are typically served at the table on lazy Susans.[5]

In the United Kingdom[edit]

Supper clubs in the UK adopted the cabaret concept of the American 1930s and 1940s and aimed to bring the ambience of the underground New York jazz club to the UK entertainment scene, where people could enjoy a dinner without the formality of a ball, whilst enjoying live music. These clubs were often the centre of social networks in both rural communities and cities. Traditional supper club menus consisted of standard American fare, and in the UK there was a concerted drive to give the food and wine a British twist.[7] Some supper clubs were purely informal dining societies whilst others incorporated musical acts to complement the atmosphere. There was also a form of supper club which acted as an informal dating platform. Both have largely been replaced by modern nightclubs.

The term "supper club" is enjoying a revival with slightly different meaning – generally a small underground club (often with roving premises which are only revealed to the guests when they buy a ticket), where guests eat from a restricted or set menu,[8] and are expected to fraternise with other guests whom they may not know.[9]

In the 2020s in the UK 'underground restaurants' and 'supper clubs' started to blossom, with reviews in leading newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian.[10] They range across the UK but are mainly concentrated in London. These are advertised by word of mouth and on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. There are a number of ways to find out about supper clubs including social media and the website Eat My World,[11] which lists events all over the UK. Some supper clubs in London are advertised on Grub Club, a London online supperclub platform.

In Latin America[edit]

In Latin America, a supper club is typically an underground restaurant known as either a paladar or a restaurante de puertas cerradas (locked door restaurant). Although technically illegal, this type of restaurant is built into the culture,[clarification needed] often with higher standards than many licensed establishments.[12] They are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.[13]

The attraction of the underground restaurant for the customer is the ability to sample new food at low prices outside the traditional restaurant experience. For the host, benefits are making some money and experimenting with cooking without having to invest in a restaurant proper. As one host told the San Francisco Chronicle, "It's literally like playing restaurant... You can create the event, and then it's over."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rogers, Kaleigh (2014-03-07). "The underground world of Toronto's secret supper clubs". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  2. ^ O'Flaherty, Mark C. (2006-09-03). "This week's special: guerrilla dining". the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  3. ^ a b "Supper Clubs: Buildings with Taste". Wisconsin State Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2004-03-07.
  4. ^ "Chicago Tribune: Chicago news, sports, weather, entertainment". chicagotribune.com. Archived from the original on 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2021-10-12.
  5. ^ a b c d Dennis Getto, "Supper clubs that are a cut above prime time" Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  6. ^ a b "Savoring the Past: Supper Clubs". Archived from the original on 2017-02-07. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  7. ^ Fernandez and Leluu's Game On Menu Archived 2010-09-14 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ the Basement Galley Menus Archived 2015-04-28 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Diners Guide Archived 2010-10-21 at the Wayback Machine Simon Dogget
  10. ^ Thring, Oliver (29 September 2010). "Five top London supper clubs". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  11. ^ Eat My World
  12. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2008/apr/17/undergroundrestaurants Archived 2009-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/may/29/underground-restaurants-msmarmitelover-hardeep Archived 2009-06-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "GUERRILLA GOURMET / Guided by word-of-mouth, diners flock to unlicensed restaurants for excellent food in secret settings". 22 January 2006. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2021.

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