Cranberry Club no longer in the works; Driftless Social making progress

We featured these two anticipated supper clubs in our April cover story. One has been scrapped indefinitely, the other is on the way.
non-alcoholic cocktail
Supper club drink menus are reflecting changing tastes, says Brian Bartels, particularly with expanded non-alcoholic offerings, like this Juniper Lake cocktail made with Amass Riverine zero-proof spirit, cranberry juice and ginger beer. (Photo by Nikki Hansen)

Ryan Huber, Brian Bartels and Sam Parker have pulled the plug for now on their plans to open Cranberry Club, a modern supper club concept for 617 N. Sherman Ave.

“Trying to build a restaurant from scratch right as the second wave of COVID hit, inflation and supply chain issues, and the war in Russia … it very quickly became an impossibility,” says Huber. “It’s something that we would like to revisit when things make more sense.”

The trio, who co-own downtown’s Settle Down Tavern and Oz by Oz, were gearing up earlier this year to “build a supper club for the modern era.” The modern twists were to include healthier entree options, N/A cocktails and cranberry-inspired offerings paying homage to Wisconsin, which is the leading producer of cranberries in the United States.

But the Settle Down Tavern and Oz by Oz family is still set to expand with the opening of Turn Key, a different restaurant concept planned for 1344 E. Washington Ave. (most recently home to a Pasqual’s Cantina location). “You’ll find some of the fare that we were working on at the Cranberry Club at [Turn Key],” says Huber.

Driftless Social still in the works
While Cranberry Club — one of four featured restaurants in our April 2022 cover story — has been put on hold for now, the other yet-to-open restaurant featured in that story was Driftless Social, and those plans are still underway. The Mount Horeb space, formerly home to Schubert’s, is undergoing intense renovations. The original 1905 tin ceilings unfortunately couldn’t be salvaged. “We really wanted to save it, but it was really rough,” says Matt Schmock, who co-owns Driftless Social with brother Tim Schmock. “[During removal], we were taking rust baths.” The plan is to remove all the ceiling tiles and leave the wooden beams beneath exposed after a fresh coat of paint.


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Matt Schmock says they are currently going through the garage attached to Smoky’s Club that is housing 69 years worth of memorabilia from the supper club his family ran from 1953 to 2022. “We’re going through stuff, and there are things in there that I remember seeing when I was 4 years old,” he says. Matt Schmock says they’ve already moved quite a few pieces of Smoky’s memorabilia to the new Mount Horeb space.

He’s hopeful that they can at least get Driftless Social’s bar open by the end of September, but that’s not a firm expected open. “With the shape the building’s in, we keep running into more,” he says.

Zehra Topbas contributed to this article.

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