KEWAUNEE, Wis. (WFRV) – In the heart of downtown Kewaunee, just a block from the lake, The Wildflower beckons.
“We have a lot of people from Manitowoc, and Green Bay visit us, especially in the winter,” says owner Cassie Jelinek. “We are a new twist on an old tradition I like to stay.”
Working alongside Jelinek is her husband Jason, who is a Kewaunee native and former mayor. Although he is a musician by trade, he is very much a part of this mission to create a comfortable atmosphere where people can gather while offering a new approach to the menu.
“We want people to spend time with one another,” explained Jason. “Talk with one another and stay off your phone.”
The bar has what you’d expect from a supper club with hand-muddled old-fashioned cocktails, a wide variety of beers, and martinis and ice cream drinks. Both Cassie and Jason tend to the bar and often experiment with flavors.
Cassie has a Wisconsin take on the “Black and Tan” and instead calls her combination of Guinness and Blue Moon the “Black and Blue.” They also have original creations such as the Kewaunee Sunset, a Wisconsin take on the “Cosmopolitan.”
They are regularly changing their menu too.
Although customer favorites like the lobster bisque are always available along with a relish tray on request, on any given day, you could see something quite unique because the Chef can get it fresh. Cassie says they didn’t want to get bogged down with the same items for years and years.
“We have a nice steak and pasta on occasion where we do a lot of different kinds of pasta and flavors,” Cassie explained. “It is fresh and something you can’t get anywhere else in Kewaunee.”
It also saves villagers from having to venture to Green Bay. For example, The Wildflower offers sashimi-grade tuna and salmon.
The head chef is Cassie’s Uncle, Adam Davis, who moved to Kewaunee with Cassie’s Aunt from Wasau specifically to help her fulfill her dream of opening a supper club.
They also brought in the sous chef, a transplant from North Carolina.
Chef Davis says they brought more fish and sushi to the menu because of its appeal to a customer looking for healthier options but who also enjoys the leisurely supper club experience.
“It’s nice to know our fish is 72 to 96 hours from boat to here,” Chef Davis told Local 5 News. “It can’t get any fresher than that.”
Whichever corner you choose to settle in for supper, be sure to check out the stuff on the wall from original art that Cassie, Jason, and her Aunt Angel all worked on themselves.
There’s also some Hollywood memorabilia, including a photo of Cassie’s grandmother holding up a time marker on a movie set.
“Her grandfather is Bill Rebain,” Jason confirmed. “He made movies throughout the ’70s and ’80s. He’s known for the film ‘The Giant Spider Invasion’.”
Recently the Wildflower celebrated its first anniversary. The opening is a year later than planned because of the pandemic-related shutdown, which caused bank financing to fall apart.
But Cassie didn’t give up on her dream.
“We were like, alright, we’re gonna do this. It’s happening,” she recalled.
The building owners helped out with some repairs, not to mention Cassie’s dad coming in to install the electrical. It was a community effort, and now a building that has served as a gathering spot since the 1890s blooms anew.
“I think a lot of people think supper clubs are for old people,” said customer Marge Rodrian who was celebrating her birthday along with two friends who were also born in January. “Our son, who is in his 30s, and his wife go to supper clubs because you get the best food there.”
Then there is the atmosphere and the time to get to know people while you wait for supper.
“It’s a social thing,” added Jan Fischer, who moved here with her husband 20 years ago from Chicago. “That’s why we like to come out here. You run into people you know, and you have fun. It’s life in the village, I always say.”
A euphemism, of course, for the homey feeling of the city of Kewaunee. Among The Wildflower.
The Wildflower Supper Club is located at 306 Ellis Street in Kewaunee, about a block from Lake Michigan.