Brothers serve up family traditionWiederholt’s Supper Club is a family operation. The owners hope to keep it that way.
By: Rebecca Rudolph, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: This the second of five stories about the 2012 Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce award-winners.
MIESVILLE — Wiederholt’s Supper Club is a family operation. The owners hope to keep it that way.
John and Charlie Wiederholt recently won the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce 2012 restaurant of the year. They said they can’t take credit for it.
“All you do is you just try to be the captain of the ship, but you better put the right people on the ship and they’re as important as anybody,” John said.
Before the brothers bought the Miesville restaurant in 1977, the supper club’s first captain was their father. Cy Wiederholt bought the building, which was then a bar, a grocery store and a filling station, and he transformed it into a popular eating spot in 1961. A few years later, he was forced to sell because of health concerns.
“I remember when he called us home. I was 16 or 15 and Charlie was probably a freshman in college, and he said, ‘I’m selling it,’ and he cried like a baby,” John said.
Charlie offered to come back to town and run the place, but his father told him that he should finish college. Cy said he would help Charlie get started with a business later on.
When the family restaurant was sold, “business was booming.” But the new owners did not find the same success and sold it a couple years later, John said.
Cy died. But when Harriet saw her late husband’s business back up for sale, she bought it.
John and Charlie moved back home from college because they felt it was a “family obligation” to help their mom with the new restaurant.
“I didn’t like it a whole lot when I was 18 years old. I’ll tell you that,” John said.
“And I was 21, so it wasn’t really where I wanted to be, but that’s what we did and stuck with it. And here we are 40 years later,” Charlie said.
As the two grew as business owners, so did their business. The restaurant became more established, playing host to small parties and scheduling bands.
The brothers said that while maintaining consistency is one of the most challenging parts of owning a restaurant, it also is the most important. That is possible at Wiederholt’s, they said, because they have retained their staff — bartenders, cooks or wait staff.
John and Charlie believe that consistency is what has helped them to succeed, even during the recession. In an economy that prompted other restaurants to find cheaper alternatives to food products or not maintain the same level of customer service, the Wiederholts decided to stick with what satisfies customers.
“When times are tough, they don’t want that mediocre,” Charlie said.
“Business is like this,” John said moving his hand up and down. “You just have to get through it.”
The restaurant will see some change soon, however. John and Charlie plan on retiring and hope to sell their business to the younger generation.
“It’s been good. I mean, all our kids worked here — got everybody through college. My mother’s 88 and still comes down and stands at the hostess station,” John said.
The two say that they have faith that if their children do buy the restaurant, they will do a good job.
“They’ve worked here for a long time, but now they’re learning how to run the place,” Charlie said.
Still, the two said they do not plan on leaving entirely any time soon.
“I’m not just gonna walk away and be gone,” Charlie said.