SHAWANO, Wis. (WFRV) – On the first Thursday of every month, Local 5 News tells the story of a Wisconsin Supper Club, usually within driving distance of its northeast Wisconsin studio location.
It is not a food review but a look at the people behind the tradition.
Inevitably, much of what we learn doesn’t get on the air, given the constraints of the 10 o’clock newscast.
So, we have found a home for extra stories here on the web.
Such is the case with supper club historian Ron Faiola, who will be out with his fourth book on Wisconsin supper clubs in November.
“The first book is the most popular, and this is a better version of this book,” Faiola told Local 5 News during a recent lecture at the Shawano County Library.
How he got into documenting supper clubs is a story in and of itself.
“In 2009, the economy had collapsed, and all my corporate video work disappeared,” he recalled. “I said I can panic, or I’ve got the equipment; I can go around because it’s Lent, and nobody’s done anything on fish fries.”
He focussed on 11 Milwaukee fish fries and showed a trailer to the Milwaukee PBS station, which loved it and picked up the movie he made.
He then followed up with a movie about supper clubs in 2011.
“There was a review in the Chicago Tribune praising the movie,” Faiola said. “Doug Siebold of Agate Publishing saw the article and sent me an email out of the blue and said would you like to do a book? I was really lucky because I had nothing else planned then.”
Be sure to listen to our Wisconsin Supper Club Podcast, now available here.