Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Pyramid Supper Club

I caught the tail end of a documentary on PBS last weekend about Wisconsin Supper Clubs.  What's a supper club, you ask?  I think the folks in the trailer for the film (below) probably explain it best, but according to Wikipedia:

A supper club, in general, refers to a dining establishment that also functions as a social club...Supper club in United States is an American dining establishment generally found in the Upper Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.  These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas.  They were traditionally thought of as a "destination" where patrons would go to spend the whole evening, from cocktail hour to enjoying night club style entertainment after dinner.  They feature a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

So it's a restaurant, but more.

Here in this area, we had the Pyramid Supper Club.  Established in the early 1960s, it featured an Egyptian theme, right down to its pyramid-shaped architecture and interior decorations in Egyptian motifs.

The above postcard is from our family collection.  The woman at the front table is my mother (the man next to her, according to my dad, was a salesman recruited for the shot).

(Image Source)
Americans were becoming fascinated with all things Egyptian at that time, in part due to the Tutankhamun Treasures exhibit that had begun touring museums and galleries across the country in 1961.  The 1963 movie, Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, undoubtedly added to the fervor.

So a pyramid-themed supper club in the middle of a cornfield in Wisconsin?  Hey, why not.  It was indeed a very successful establishment while under its original ownership and management for several decades.  

My mother worked at the Pyramid from its early days, first as a waitress and later a bartender and hostess.  (I also worked there briefly in the late '70s as a coat check).  Here are some of the uniforms my mom wore through the years.  

Hemlines were going up (as were the hairdos) during this period in history, and these uniforms tell the tale!

My mom helped design and sew several of the uniforms for herself and other waitresses.  I particularly remember the unique fitted number with the pleated skirt and shoulder scarf.  She had to order several bolts of white polyester double-knit and yards upon yards of teal and gold ribbon trim.  We had quite the flurry of activity at our house for several weeks that year, waitresses coming and going through her sewing room door to be measured and fitted.  It was all quite entertaining!

And here is one of the first miniature menus.  This one is dated 1962.  Check out those prices!

I hope to watch the Wisconsin Supper Clubs movie in its entirety at some point.  Since the Pyramid had already closed, it wasn't part of the film but is mentioned on the film's website.  I am happy to have fond memories of the place and its fine people, and an appreciation for the role it played in both the local economy and our family's.

I'll be linking to Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady. Click to visit for more fun and fascination from time gone by!


Kathy said...

I loved the food at the Pyramid!!!
You really look like your Mom!! She was beautiful.

Charlotte said...

I remember supper clubs although I was too young to ever go to one! Wish these prices would return!

Larri said...

What a cool thing, these Supper Clubs. Never heard of them, but am delighted to learn, and wished they were around here. Bet those gentlemen loved looking at your gorgeous Mom and her long legs. ☺ I'd wear that first dress now! Thanks for sharing, P. Happy Wednesday ☺

Vicki @ DottyJane said...

What great memories for you of your mom and the Pyramid! Very cool that she made a lot of the uniforms. You come by your talents naturally!

Shay said...

Your Mom was one good looking chick! Those uniforms are certainly a blast from the past!

I dont know if Supper Clubs ever existed here - I'll have to ask my Mum!

Keetha Broyles said...

I SAW that supper club special! In fact, we TAPED it so we could study it in more detail and decide if any of the ones mentioned were close enough to try them out.

There are a few supper clubs right here in Rapids, and even though none of ours were highlighted in that special, maybe we should try THEM out before we traipse across the state!

Pokey said...

What a neat share, I cannot say I'd ever heard of a supper club before. But your Mom is a beauty, and a good seamstress too by the looks of those uniforms (you come by your height from her, also). It really is cool to have documentation of this being a part of your family heritage!

Elizabeth said...

That is SO cool! And wow, some of those skirts were short!

I love the term 'supper club.' I think it sounds so posh. In the movie, "The Great Muppet Caper," the muppets go to a supper club to try and find a jewel thief.

The Pyramid sounds like a really neat place. I love the Egyptian theme and that is so cool that you have such a neat connection. This was a really fun post. Thanks so much!

xo -E

Anonymous said...

As a Wisconsin native, I never really thought about supper clubs being unique. Hmm...

By the way, your mom has showgirl legs. Seriously. I'm jealous.

c. Joy said...

Your mom's legs are wonderful. Love the fact that she could do it all - even create the uniform. Wonder where we could get dinner for 2 for $7.95 these days? Thanks for sharing.

Alyssa Bee said...

This is wonderful- i love this kinda of whimsical, WI history! Will have to keep my eye open for the documentary on PBS.
I ordered a brandy old-fashioned last weekend at a wedding in NY- the bartender had to ask what was in it! *fail*

jeanne said...

This is so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing the old supper club called The Pyramid. Your mom is beautiful in the photos and the uniforms were fun to see. Awesome, I want to go to a supper club. Smile.
Hugs, Jeanne

Michelle said...

How cool is that! And I thought Las Vegas was the first to do a pyramid. :-)

Your mom had great looking legs!

Anonymous said...

wow, this is so interesting. I enjoyed your mom's photos....

Miss Hillbilly said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Very interesting. I never have known anything about supper clubs. It was neat seeing the clothing changes.

Miri said...

This is really interesting! Boy they knew how to party in the 60s...I remember my parents always went out.

Love your mother's uniforms...the first is definitely my favorite-so elegant!

MomWaldsPlace said...

Wow, being from Wisconsin I thought these were all over the U.S.. Yep, your mom is a hottie!

SueWis said...

Your mom was hot!

My grandma used to work at a nearby supper club, called the Gun Club. No pics of her in her cute little uniform as far as I know.

And I would LOVE a Brandy Old-Fashioned!