Roxy Lounge: Hanging Out

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Though all of us had often been to the Roxy Supper Club at 571 N. Main Street. None of us had ever been to the Roxy Lounge. Wisconsin banned smoking in restaurants sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. This ban also included any bar in a restaurant that was open to the dining area. This affected the Roxy as well as other restaurant and bar combinations in the state. But if the bar were in a separate room behind a closed door, well then smokers could drink and smoke in that room, but not eat. So the Roxy took a room used for private parties and turned that into their bar and smoking lounge. Then, July 2010 Wisconsin became “smoke free” and that included all workplaces and all bars and taverns.

Often while dining at the Roxy, I have seen people enter the lounge through a door in the dining room, but I had never ventured into it. So this night, October 16, we entered the lounge from its own entrance on Main Street. A bar runs along the north wall. The back bar lacks the fancy ornamentation of old bars. Three flat screen TVs hang over it. The opposite wall has a row of tables and chairs that are bar height. We hiked ourselves up on the last available table and ordered our beers: Elaine had Hopalicious; Don, Badger Amber Ale; Judy, Spotted Cow; Marv and I, Badger Club. Marv slapped a five-dollar bill on the bar to pay for our beers. The bartender said, “That’ll be $8.00, sir.” Marv added another five and an explanation, “We just came from Gorilla’s.”

Marv, ever the New York Yankee fan, was distracted by a Yankee game on TV. They were ahead 4 – 0 in the 7th inning. He can’t wait to see their new 2018 “Murderer’s Row.”

We know supper clubs are common in our part of the states. So we are often puzzled when some out-of-stater says they’ve never heard of them, or they have some strange notion of what they are such as expecting a large dance floor and stage. Well, some do or did have that. I remember the Flamingo in Sheboygan did; that building was torn down ages ago. There are a couple of coffee table books on supper clubs in Wisconsin and northern Illinois that I have. According to these books, what supper clubs seem to have in common is a menu (lots of steaks, fish fries on Fridays, prime rib on Saturdays) and drinks, especially Old Fashioneds, made with brandy in Wisconsin and usually whiskey in other states. Also many of them are in the rural areas of Northern Wisconsin. My sister and her husband who live “Up North” rave about the excellent meals they eat at supper clubs in their area.

While Marv was at the bar ordering our beers, a guy from New York City in Oshkosh on business introduced himself and said he’d never heard of supper clubs, but loved the Roxy. Marv gave him our card and mentioned we’d been on this beer trail stuff since 2009. “And your group’s favorite place?” the man asked. Probably Oblio’s Marv said, but no food there, just drinks.

We moved from the Lounge into the dining room for supper. “Show of hands,” Don asked. “How many of you think Oshkosh Corporation will build their headquarters here?” “I sure hope so,” I said raising my hand. I know Marv raised his, as I would have kicked his shin if he hadn’t. The rest were doubtful. They had that “Oshkosh is never lucky” attitude. We’ve been burned too often, I guess. Lost the airport to Appleton, major shopping mall to Appleton, etc. Some people moan about losing a city owned golf course that is the site where Oshkosh Corp. will build its headquarters. Really? A golf course that costs the city lots of money each year and no profits? A golf course that many city golfers don’t like playing on it? And no one can call it a “public park” since its bordered by No Trespassing signs and a rock filled shoreline. Here’s a quick update: A few weeks later, Oshkosh Corporation decided to build on that site in the city; ground breaking is set for April. Hurrah!! Play golf at Westhaven.

Our other topic of conversation was the Wisconsin Herd, a G-League basketball team of the Milwaukee Bucks. Their arena on South Main Street was nearly finished. Going to any of their games? Marv and I, who don’t go south in the winter unless its to Fond du Lac, said we certainly hoped to get to some as long as they did not conflict with the UW Oshkosh Titans. The Herd and its arena, the Menominee Nation, is another plus for the city.

Time to order dinner. Usually Marv and I are here on a Friday, fish fry night, or Tuesday, German night. Regardless of the day, I always choose blackened salmon. Elaine, Marv, and Judy had the mounds of shrimp. Gary, (we are going to start calling him Wimpy—as in the Popeye comic strip) had a hamburger and fries. Don, the birthday boy, had surf and turf. By now our waitress, Cassie, knew it was Don’s birthday so she arrived at dessert time with a small cake and candle. While Don blew out the candle we sang Happy Birthday. Many people sitting at the nearby tables joined us in our singing.

We left by the main entrance to the Roxy that meant we passed through the large oval-shaped bar that separates the two dining rooms. That’s the bar Marv and I sit at on Friday nights after the University Club’s cocktail parties and have a Manhattan. The best in town, we think.

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About Author

Frankie Mengeling

Frankie Mengeling taught English at Oshkosh North High School and Lourdes High School and was co-director of the Fox Valley Writing Project at UWO. She lives on the Oshkosh’s only hill, with her husband Marvin, son Tom and cat Katrina. The blog www.ridingthebeertrail.wordpress.com began in the summer of 2009 after the three couple beer trail began.

1 Comment

  1. You spent more page space using this as a podium for your local political views than you did talking about Roxy Lounge. I had no clue what Roxy Lounge was like before reading this and now I am in a similar postion but know that there is 3 TVs there.

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