JIM FALLS — It’s best to be hungry when you are trying to find Old Abe’s Supper Club. A growling stomach will sharpen the sense of direction that you will need considering the near total lack of signs along the route after you leave Highway 178.
Once you get to Old Abe’s at 17256 155th Ave., Jim Falls, you can put an end to those hunger pains with a steak. Or a taco. Or a Wisconsin favorite, the Friday fish fry.
“You’ve got to keep traditions,” said Gary Rolfes, who has co-owned Old Abe’s with Troy Schwartz since 1999.
The strong tie with tradition is one reason why author Ron Faiola selected the Jim Falls eatery as one of the 50 supper clubs featured in his new book, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round.”
Three other area supper clubs are also featured in Faiola’s latest book. They include Connell’s Supper Club in the town of Lafayette, Kutzee’s Supper Club in Stanley and Jake’s Supper Club in Menomonie.
Faiola wrote the second book after the success of his first on the subject, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience.” Among the 50 supper clubs featured in that book was High Shores of the town of Lafayette.
Faiola wrote that he visited Old Abe’s in 2013, when the supper club was packed for a fish fry. Rolfes is happy Faiola selected Old Abe’s to be included in the second book.
“It’s nice. It’s publicity for us. We could use it out here,”said Rolfes, who with Schwartz grew up around the supper club.
“His dad (Tom “Tucker” Schwartz) used to own it and we were neighbors,” Rolfes said. In 1999, Rolfes and Troy Schwartz bought Old Abe’s.
Since then, they have made minor changes, including to some of the flooring. Otherwise, they have left the place alone.
Schwartz takes care of the bar, where the old-fashioned is the most popular mixed drink.
Rolfes takes care of the kitchen. His menu carries on supper club tradition with steaks, prime rib and ribeye, along with chicken and that Friday fish fry. Some items are added here and there, but mostly the menu revolves around the basics.
“He have a lot of older clientele,” Rolfes said, adding their regulars come back with their friends. They enjoy the easy-going setting. “We have a laid-back atmosphere.”
Old Abe’s is open Wednesday-Sunday. It is closed Monday and Tuesday, which Rolfes said gives him time to get things done and run errands.
Visitors will see wood paneling, beer signs, signs sporting wisecracks and a large mounted deer head.
To see that, you have to find Old Abe’s. There is a restricted number of signs leading visitors to 155th Avenue. Rolfes said they tried to get permission to put up a sign on Highway 178.
“They said we couldn’t do it,” he said.
Old Abe’s doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Facebook page, which isn’t updated very often. That’s okay, because supper clubs were a Wisconsin tradition long before the latest electronic gadget came along.
When you have an appetite for supper club fare, you will find some of the state’s finest no matter if you are in Jim Falls, Lafayette, Stanley or Menomonie.