OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – Dawn Balthazor continued the tradition started by her grandfather Romanesko and her father and is now the third generation to own and operate Romy’s Nitingale Supper Club.
Through the years her two brothers, Gary and Keith, played a critical role and were also part of the business and protecting the tradition of Wisconsin hospitality.
Romy was the nickname of the men in the family. How Nitingale wound up in the title remains something of a mystery.
“We’ve asked over the years,” explained Dawn. “I don’t know if it’s just something they came up with in 1963.”
Why ask why when it’s worked for as long as it has?
The broasted chicken is the star here. But you can get a variety of fish on Fridays. If you choose the ham or beef tips instead, be sure to leave room for dessert. Because they have at least six varieties of cakes, cookies, and or pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.
“We have our own bakery here,” Dawn added. “We make everything from scratch.”
As was the case with her father, Dawn puts great value on staying consistent with quality food and recipes.
She’s had to carry on alone with operating the business after her brother Gary passed away from cancer in 2003. Keith retired in 2020.
But she has Al Krause who’s been working in the kitchen for 28 years and her bartender Dan Debruin who’s been at it for 30. Their experience combined with the enthusiasm of a corps of young student workers is by design.
“I feel it’s important we continue,” Dawn shared. “Because we don’t want to lose our supper clubs. We need to get our young people involved and working together. I really do work that a lot here at Romy’s because we’re a family.”
In the kitchen timing is everything. No dish sits for very long.
“It can be organized chaos at times,” Al admits. “But over the years, we’ve got a pretty smooth well-oiled system that quite honestly goes very well.”
Curbside service with a home-baked cookie continued even after pandemic-relate restrictions ended.
It was especially popular on Easter Sunday.
Al says they sold more than 1,900 lbs of chicken from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. That’s more than 4,000 pieces.
But if Romy’s broasted chicken is so beloved then why is a steer on the top of the building?
Turns out there is a story behind it.
Dawn says the family got a chicken statue from Sparta.
“But it had one leg and it wouldn’t stay up. So we have the steer.”
If dairy is your thing, then you’re going to want to stop for an ice cream drink after supper.
A soft-serve ice cream machine is part of the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Bartender Dan offers the usual grasshopper and brandy Alexander as well as more than a dozen other options, including the “Purple Orchid” made from blackberry brandy.
“I’ve been doing this so long I enjoy it,” Dan said.
The majority of people are here to have a good time. They’re out to have fun. It’s a pleasant experience for me and them.”
Romy’s is a place to mark a special occasion. Or simply an occasion to make supper special.
If an actual wedding or banquet isn’t going on in the dance hall, diners can venture out there to enjoy a windmill-inspired ceiling decoration first designed by Dawn’s father.
It still spins today. The hardwood flooring he placed in the dance hall also remains.
Edna Warnke and her husband Ken stopped by to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.
They also checked in on their granddaughter who’s a server.
They said it was the perfect way to end a drive in the country and get value for your money.
“I like it when people smile and say welcome when you walk through the door,” said Edna.
“It’s a good place to stop in,” Ken added. “Have a drink, have some food and just enjoy your evening.”
Romy’s Nitingale is open Fridays and Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
Dawn is very good at keeping announcements up to date on Romy’s Facebook page, so you know when they’re doing something special for the holidays.