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In late May , then-motel and restaurant manager Clyde Hartwig filed a notice with the Village of Johnson Creek stating that the motel and restaurant would "permanently cease operations and close its business" [4] by July 26 of that year. A newspaper article about the closure noted that, when the announcement was made, the operation was struggling, and that a visit showed only "7 tables of about 40 tables" were occupied during the dinner rush, and that "Five vehicles were parked at the motel at the same time".

The restaurant closed as scheduled, although a newspaper article published in claims the motel had stayed open [5] until early that year.

The Gobbler - Wikipedia

After the Hartwig family sold the building in the early s, several restaurants operated in the building. The first was a Mexican restaurant called "Redondos" in The last tenant went out of business in mid There were attempts by the Menominee , [2] Potawatomi and Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribes in the s to purchase the land for a multimillion-dollar casino , hotel and convention center. The owners held an auction of the property and separate items, including the petrified wood that lined the entrance, in December , hoping to recoup some of their costs.

In , the locally produced film Missed Connections was shot on location at the restaurant. The Gobbler was reopened in December as the Gobbler Theater by owner Dan Manesis, who bought the property in The iconic rotating bar remains, as well as the original chairs and some of the decor. The turkey farmer really had some vision. Ajango was no stranger to supper clubs, having designed the Fireside Dinner Theatre, built in in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, where the architect had lived since He pretty much danced to his own drummer.

Requiem for the Gobbler Motel

Manesis was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late s when he first visited the Gobbler. The year-old now owns a Milwaukee trucking and warehouse company and has been driving dragsters since at the Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. It was a miniature Playboy Club. The waitresses had neat little outfits—they had turkey feathers coming out of their suits instead of the little bunny tail. Indeed, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner might have used the Gobbler as a template for his chain of clubs, opening the Playboy Club resort in nearby Lake Geneva shortly after the Gobbler had started up.

The Gobbler Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

At one point during its hiatus, a Gobbler-A-Go-Go gentleman's club was suggested, but the Johnson Creek Village Board denied that proposal, as well as a plan for a small casino in the space. After Hartwig's death in the mids, the Gobbler became a rib shack and later a Mexican restaurant—somewhat appropriate considering the building's exterior consists of Mexican lava rock. The place reopened in for a brief period as the New Gobbler. Before this year, it had been shuttered since We wanted to do it right.


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The original supper club had a beauty shop, barber shop, and gift store in the basement. A ton dance floor with a disco ball hung over the bar from the ceiling. Manesis had it excised.

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The dance floor was made of plywood, steel, and tons of drywall and plaster. A two-story kitchen was where the stage is.


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  • That kitchen served the main floor and it was a way to bring food to people upstairs. All of that had to be removed. But its real claim to fame is the revolving bar," says Draeger, the historian. A few weeks later, Draeger recalls, the architect got a call from Hartwig.

    The Gobbler Supper Club TV Commercial

    The bar is spinning so fast that after people have a few drinks, they're falling off their bar stools. Manesis fondly remembers the Gobbler as an elegant establishment where men wore tuxedos and women donned evening gowns. Diners sat in lavender and pink chairs.

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    It was not designed as a supper club but as a theater. Our research showed Clarence changed his mind to make it a supper club at the last minute. The idea to start a theater came to Manesis a few years ago, when his son opened for a band at the Rave in Milwaukee.


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