Archie’s earns Iowa Supper Clubs book distinction
LE MARS — Archie’s Waeside in Le Mars has long been a destination spot for those who enjoy steaks and fine dining.
Now a new book, “Iowa Supper Clubs,” by Megan Bannister of Des Moines, includes Archie’s as one of the places in Iowa where dining is an experience.
“No matter where they grew up, I’ve come to realize that many Midwesterners have these distinct dining memories,” Bannister writes in the book’s introduction. “As I researched this book, I discovered with profound certainty that supper clubs are special, almost sacred, places.”
That thought is not lost on Archie’s Owner Bob Rand and and his sister, Lorrie Luense, who are the third generation of the Archie Jackson family to be running the family business.
The book also features sections on “Midwest Supper Club Culture” and “Iowa’s Lost Supper Clubs.” She includes two northwest Iowa clubs, the Cedar Cabin in Ashton and Vern & Coila’s at Okoboji, in the lost category.
Archie’s opened in Le Mars in 1949 with the late Archie Jackson, using his experience in butchering and preparing meat, to start an establishment that has grown into an area favorite.
“Megan contacted us in July 2019 and asked if she could include Archie’s in her book on supper clubs in Iowa and interview us about the restaurant history, our involvement with the business, and the wonderful tradition of Midwest supper clubs in Iowa. She came to visit the restaurant on a busy Saturday night in mid-August,” Luense said.
“She has been here a couple of times,” Rand said. “She is very thorough and has a passion about the books she has written. She has at least one other book about restaurants in Iowa. I enjoyed talking with her about her pursuit about finding all the information about restaurants in Iowa.”
“It was quite interesting to meet Megan and hear about her book because the number of small town supper clubs are dwindling and she is keeping their stories alive,” Luense said. “People are going to enjoy reading about the culture of supper clubs, and which clubs have closed their doors and those who are still open.”
Rand said he appreciated all the information in the book and being included in it.
“We’re very excited, because there are active supper clubs in the book and also a lot of history about clubs that aren’t open any longer.
“I think it was a great idea for the book, because restaurants play a very important part of people’s lives. They love being there, they love going out to dinner,” Rand said.
He added in talking with people about just the clubs in northwest Iowa, some no longer open, people shared about going there with their mom and dad, their grandpa and grandma.
“I think it’s really nice that some of the information and detailed information about the clubs that people didn’t even know comes out. It’s great,” Rand said.
He added his grandfather was friends with Al Matalonni who owned the Cedar Cabin in Ashton.
“For me, it’s been a joy to grow up at Archie’s and for me to be the third generation owner of Archie’s and keep it in our family. Its very, very fulfilling to me and my family,” Rand said.
His grandfather is never far from his thoughts, either.
“I can’t think of a week that has gone by in the 25 years that I have owned the restaurant that I don’t think about what my grandpa would have thought about certain things, or seeing them unfold,” he said.
Rand also reflected on the customers who have come to dine through the years.
“When you’re around that long, we get to see all different things happen to families and to be honest with you, we’re honored to be a part of those celebrations, to the not-so-great times in their family. They still get together and they go out, and we’re there for all those parts of it, and we take that very seriously,” Rand said. “It’s an honor to be able to have all the families over all the generations have trust in our family and all the wonderful employees that have worked at Archie’s for 72 years now.
“This book brings up a lot of memories for a lot of those people and a lot of those restaurants if they’re still open or not open. I think it’s a great tribute to all those,” Rand said.
In the book, Bannister describes her Saturday night dining experience, starting with the the crowd waiting to be seated to the decor, from the menu to the meal.
“While Archie’s offers a handful of other entrées like burgers and seafood, steaks are truly where this supper club shines. With more than a dozen cuts of beef on the menu, entrée options range from ordinary to extravagant, like the Chateaubriand for two that is carved at the diners’ table.
She calls the relish tray “perfectly selected.”
Her order of a petite tenderloin did not disappoint.
“Each cut is easily two inches thick and pillow soft when you bring a knife to it. Until this petite tenderloin at Archie’s, I never fully understood what people meant when they said that meat ‘melted’ in their mouths. These cuts are truly worthy of the phrase,” she wrote.
“If you take nothing else away from your supper club education, know you should always trust the cook — especially at Archie’s,” she continued.
Bannister is a writer and digital marketer with a passion for kitsch and Americana. She was raised in the Chicago suburbs and related to Des Moines, where she attended Drake University and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. As an adopted Iowan, she has become a devotee of the Iowa State Fair but still hasn’t committed to being a Hawkeye or Cyclones fan.
In addition to her freelance work, Bannister also writes a blog inspired by offbeat destinations, roadside attractions and “world’s largest” things. This is her first book. Her blog is OlioInIowa.com.