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Why did Eve's Supper Club close its doors?

by Jeff Flynt

On Monday I saw the news that Eve's Supper Club in Allouez served their final steak and made their last old fashioned last Saturday night.

My personal connection to Eve's came in 2012 when I sat down with owners Jerry and Jarrie Haltaufderheid for my 3-part series on supper clubs.

At the time, they spoke about the challenges of the restaurant business and its effect, in particular, on supper clubs. They discussed their plan of offering nightly specials in order to attract a younger crowd who may be looking for something different.

Wednesday, I spoke with Jarrie over the phone. She says it came down to several factors, the biggest of which were no heirs who were willing to run the restaurant and the continued struggling economy.

"The new things we were doing were working, however the number of people coming through the doors wasn't what it should be," says Haltaufderheid.

Saturday night, they hosted a 25th wedding anniversary for customers (who like many others over the years became friends) who were at Eve's 25 years earlier to celebrate their newly married status.

"So how terribly appropriate I thought on our last night in business to do something like that," says Haltaufderheid. "I thought that was something pretty special for that night."

Their accountant mentioned that Sunday June 30th was the end of their second quarter. It made the call to close the financial books Saturday night a bit more firm.

Jarrie says her phone had been ringing off the hook since the Green Bay Press-Gazette story ran on Monday. I assumed that many were from folks talking about the many memories of the last 41 years at 2020 Riverside Drive (I was right). But I also asked if any offered to swoop in and rescue the business and offer to help breathe new life into it.

"No, not that aspect of it. Eve's was in a semi-unique situation that we didn't own a building. We rented at our present location," says Haltaufderheid. "So when someone's looking at buying a business, per se, usually that's coming with a physical building where Eve's doesn't have that. So I think that may have hampered a few people that might have considered it, although I don't know that for sure."

Jarrie, Jerry and Rick Haltaufderheid are in their 60s, and have spent the last 40 years in the restaurant business. Jarrie says they're looking forward to new challenges, but will miss those friendly faces that have patronized Eve's Supper Club over the decades.

"I would say bittersweet is a good way to maybe describe our feelings on that," says Haltaufderheid. "The babies that we saw coming in, sitting in high chairs while Mom and Dad enjoyed their dinner, are now married and they have children. So it's been quite a pleasure to see those families grow through the years."

Some outstanding gift certificates remain out there, and Jarrie tells me that they're working with some establishments on accepting those. But with the Independence Day holiday this week, she says they likely won't have a firm answer until sometime next week.

My regret in this situation is that I never got the chance to dine at Eve's. I visited a few times chasing my feature story in 2012, and was finally able to sit down with Jarrie and Jerry Haltaufderheid for about 45 minutes. They were warm, inviting and nice to this reporter who was looking for them to open up their lives in the supper club business. 

No matter how you may feel about their decision to close exactly when the Haltaufderheid's did, there is one thing I've learned about Eve's despite never having had a meal or a drink there. Those who did got to experience a dying breed, the classic supper club, operated by folks who did their best to treat you like friends visiting their home, providing memories that endure and are more valuable than the bottle of Opus One on their wine list.