Pan American Club, Milwaukee 1960s/1970s
It’s estimated that there are still about 260 supper clubs in Wisconsin and they are a cherished tradition. They were created in the 1930s following the end of Prohibition when taverns, resorts and dancehalls had to serve food alongside beer and other liquor.
Eventually, supper clubs evolved into offering the classic menus so many people know and love – the Friday fish fry, Saturday prime rib and Sunday chicken and ribs. And, of course, the undisputed cocktail of choice - a hand-muddled brandy old-fashioned.
The Pan American on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee had nothing to do with Pan Am airlines.
It was named for the cuisines of the 21 Pan American Republics at that time - the USA, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Uruguay.
An old photograph of the place shows a low-slung building with colorful neon signs on the roof. There was a cocktail lounge, dining room and Caribbean Room for private parties. The club also advertised free parking and drive-away service.
The Pan American Club’s heyday was from the 1940s to 1960s. We’re not sure when it closed.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.