What Happened to Supper Clubs Frenchy’s, Ivan’s and the Wagon Wheel?
The St. Cloud area had a ton of supper clubs for many years but many of them went away. The WJON Morning News Watch debuted a new series this week on past St. Cloud area Supper Clubs. This time Steve Penick from the Stearns History Museum and I focused on Frenchy's in St. Cloud and a pair of former Waite Park Supper Clubs , Ivan's in the Park and the Wagon Wheel Nite Club.
Odette Pelarske opened the restaurant in 1946, and later added the defining touch, a sign topped by a 25-foot rendition of the Eiffel Tower.
Odette was raised in Paris, then during the course of World War II, met and married Joe Pelarske from Waite Park. After the War, the couple moved to St. Cloud and bought what was then known as The Gay Spot. They changed the name to Frenchy’s Gay Spot, and Joe worked as a stone cutter in the granite industry while Odette ran Frenchy’s.The supper club specialized in French cuisine, serving garlic soaked escargot, frog legs, shrimp, lobster, and turtle, among other delicacies. Frenchy’s became a local favorite, with patrons packed in during the evenings. In a 1986 interview with the St. Cloud Times, Odette claimed, “Some people would spend the night and stay until they had to go to church the next morning.”All of Joe and Odette’s six children helped out in the restaurant, cutting potatoes for french fries and buttering toast. Eventually it was their daughter, Mariette, and son, Jim, who took over ownership of the dinner club.
In March 1991 a fire caused $125,000 in damages to the property, and then in August 2004 the building was demolished. However, the iconic sign remains, marking the location of St. Cloud’s once popular French restaurant.
Ivan's in the Park was located in Waite Park and was previously known as "The Hub". Steve Penick says Poganski's Auto is located there now. The address is 408 3rd Street North, Waite Park. Penick says initially it was built for car shop people so when people got off their shift they would stop over the grab something to eat and drink. He says it evolved into more of a Supper Club. Penick thinks Ivan's closed in the 90s but he remembers going into Ivan's in the late 1980s.
The Wagon Wheel was a bit east of what is now the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill in Waite Park. Penick says the Swan Cafe was next to the Wagon Wheel. He says the Wagon Wheel burned down in 1972 and had a western theme. Penick says this place was an auto garage before changing into a Supper Club/Nite Club. Below is a picture of what the inside of the Wagon Wheel looked like.