The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Highlander Hotel revives supper club with help of Iowa River Power Restaurant

The Highlander Hotel will work with the former Iowa River Power Restaurant to revive the Supper Club.
Isabella Tisdale
The Supper Club restaurant is seen on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. The Supper club recently collaborated with the owner of The Iowa River Power Restaurant to bring aspects of the menu to a new location.

The reservation books are filling up for the revived 1960s supper club at the Highlander Hotel in Iowa City with the help of the recently closed Iowa River Power Restaurant.

The Iowa River Power Restaurant, which closed in November, will transfer its food and staffing to the Highlander’s Supper Club, which originally started in 1967.

“It’s really fun to have two women entrepreneurs team up to take a project to the next level,” Angela Harrington, owner of the Highlander Hotel, said.

The first brunch event will be held on March 24 and every Sunday after at the Highlander Hotel, located at 2525 Highlander Place.

Harrington bought the hotel in December 2019. Formerly known as the Clarion Hotel Highlander, Harrington renovated and remodeled the hotel’s interior, a process that took three years due to low resources because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I bought this property when it was highly distressed,” Harrington said. “Now we’ll go about some [renovations] on the outside, like pickleball, and hopefully someday a mini putt because this is designed to be a really comprehensive resort property.”

“This was the most popular Supper Club in all of this half of the state,” Harrington said. “People came from all over and it was the destination to have a meal.”

In 1974, The Supper Club became so popular, the hotel was built to cater to its patrons, along with its event space and swimming pool, Harrington said.

“An amazing amount of famous people stayed in the hotel during the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Harrington said. “Then it kind of started to fall into disrepair beginning in the ‘90s.”

When Harrington bought the hotel, the roof was leaking, and the sunken bar had been filled in and carpeted over to constitute an old meeting room.

Harrington brought back the sunken bar, along with turning the former meeting room into a family dining room with an arcade. In light of bringing back and preserving the old hotel design and traditions, Harrington said it felt fitting to also bring back The Supper Club.

Harrington reached out to Danise Petsel, owner of the former Iowa River Power Restaurant. Harrington wanted to provide jobs for those who were previously employed at the Iowa River Power Restaurant and to give the former restaurant a new home.

A collaboration then formed, with the Iowa River Power Restaurant in charge of catering for the revived supper club, as well as the menu and staff.

A significant difference between the former restaurant and the Highlander Hotel is the current kitchen size, Petsel said.

“I don’t think people realize how big the Iowa River Power Restaurant kitchen and space was,” Petsel said. “It was an enormous space.”

The former space consisted of numerous walk-in coolers. It was not uncommon for the restaurant to host 1,500 people on graduation, between 500-800 people for Sunday brunches, and around 1,200 people on Mother's Day or Easter brunches.

The hotel has since worked to expand the kitchen to accommodate higher volume dinners. Some of the various menu items will include prime rib, steak, seafood, and scallops.

RELATED: Retro-revival of Highlander Hotel sheds light on historical past

Todd Boehler, the restaurant’s executive chef, expressed enthusiasm for the soon-to-be supper club.

“It’s the same thing that we have been doing for a while and really well for several years,” Boehler said.

Boehler said the old supper club specialized in meals that the Iowa River Power Restaurant is able to prepare.

“It’s going to be a match made in heaven bringing our food to what they’re trying with the Highlander,” Boehler said.

The Supper Club aims to have an affordable fine dining experience for families.

“Whereas so many dinner houses have steaks at the center of the plate that are just astronomically expensive, [Petsel] works so hard to source things, affordably and locally,” Harrington said.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.