{not just} Salads for Supper

God, I love this job.

How else would one discover that the cornucopia that we know as the “salad bar” was born of frugality … and, born here in Wisconsin?

Local history, with compelling provenance, informs us that the first-ever salad bar was conceived in nearby Plover in the early ‘50s when the owner of the Sky Club, attempting to keep produce fresh, consorted with a local builder/supplier of bar furnishings and serendipitous refrigeration equipment to create a chilled table. Voici! The salad bar!

The concept caught on quickly, and thanks to the competitive need to please, the delights we relish today expanded the salad bar in some cases to 30 feet or more (10 percent of a football field), developing from the basic few lettuce leaves and cheese sprinkles to an astounding array of items from garbanzo beans to sunflower seeds and even peach slices and chocolate pudding.

Exposed to such largesse, one might be forgiven if the salad plate reached gargantuan heights, impossible to carry to the table. But replacement plates are the easy solution!

We asked the operators of a few of the dozens of restaurants that boast salad bars, mostly what we know affectionately as supper clubs, what the most exotic items are that we might find there, and, were some surprised by the innovation that these establishments display.

Off-beat items present throughout this group of restaurants include pickled beets, herring, chicken gizzards, taco fixings, barbecue meats and creative soups.

Third-generation owner Jennifer Michiels of Michiels Supper Club says their salad bar sports over 50 items and gives the restaurant the ability to create a part of their meal to serve the mood of the moment. The chicken liver pâté and hot bacon dressing are just a couple of the surprising items on the spread.

Dale Lesselyoung, owner of Dick and Joan’s in Appleton says their salad bar is stacked attractively because of the amount of dining space it consumes (no pun intended). Popular items that customers flock to include liver pate, pasta salads and the clam chowder.

“We’ll never get rid of it,” says co owner Jerry Black of Black Otter Supper Club in Hortonville of their popular salad bar.

Many of these clubs occupy historic digs, for an interestingly eclectic salad bar experience. The Granary in Sherwood started life as a general store and served as a saloon before achieving its current iteration under present owners, the Eggert family.

The Dougherty family has owned Mark’s East Side in Appleton since 1967. They compare their salad bar to the office water cooler as a place of congregation and camaraderie. The interaction at these tables of goodies is infectious and fun to watch, even entertaining.

Mark’s East Side Kitchen Manager Alex Shea tells us of the social interaction guests enjoy while building a salad and deciding how many bacon muffin popovers can be enjoyed awhile still leaving room for the award-winning clam chowder.

We had hoped to include a list of great supper clubs with salad bars and realized we would soon run out of ink and paper. You might want to pursue our extensive list at

{not just} Supper Clubs

The direct relationship between salad bars and supper clubs is flawed. Today salad bars can be found in some unusual places.

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital ’s The Market Place

The Orchard at the Red Lion Hotel
Downtown Appleton

East Appleton

Stone Arch

Cranky Pat’s

The Outpost

and…many more…..

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Food & Dining

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