Supper clubs are a Great Lakes tradition dating back to the 1930s. These dining establishments are usually designed to serve dinner only, in a welcoming environment. The typical supper club menu is centered on meat and potatoes, with tasty food and excellent service. Tim and Jackie Ohlund, the owners of Heston Supper Club and the Heston Hills Event Center in LaPorte, are carrying on that legacy and creating traditions of their own.
In 1982 the Ohlunds purchased the former Heston Bar, the building for which had been part of the community since the 1920s. Four decades later, the Ohlunds continue to serve hearty meals, generous portions and friendly service to their regular customers and new friends.
Tim Ohlund is happy that families have made his restaurant part of their family celebrations, with generations celebrating milestones. The appeal for these family gatherings is the predictability that comes with the Ohlunds’ standards at Heston Supper Club.
“They know what they are going to get,” Ohlund says. “There is no change in meals, in menus – there’s nothing eclectic.”
And what customers get is dry-aged beef that is hand cut on-site, as well as pork chops, ribs and house-smoked barbecue, seafood, and frog legs. Sauces for all dishes are made in-house to strict standards. The lake perch comes straight from the Great Lakes, and desserts are made in-house by Jackie or under her supervision. There are no burgers on the menu and no pasta dishes, but prime rib, a house specialty, is served daily.
“We want our Supper Club patrons to have the best we are able to offer,” Ohlund says. “Fresh is always the best and we buy local when available.”
That promise is reflected in the awards Heston Supper Club has received through the years. These include the Best of Beef award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
“You just continue to do what you do, day in and day out, but you can’t just rest on your laurels,” Ohlund says.
When guests arrive for supper and are seated in one of the four dining areas, they are first served Heston Supper Club’s famous cheese spread and crackers. It is another nod back to the origins of supper clubs, and the Ohlunds’ special touch. It is also for sale in the restaurant and in local stores.
“I’ve heard people tell me, ‘I always have your cheese in my refrigerator,’” Ohlund says.
At the end of their meal guests can enjoy some of the desserts, such as Jackie’s chocolate mousse, bread pudding and cheesecakes, all of which are made in-house.
Supper Club diners want good food, Ohlund says, but they also want the warmth of the surroundings to make them feel welcomed. Some rooms have fireplaces, and others a garden-like view out the windows with leafy evergreens and ambient outdoor lighting.
At the Heston Hills Event Center, people can expect the same standards, Ohlund says. It has been open for about 20 years and is a direct extension of the Supper Club. Situated on eight acres, the event center can accommodate parties of up to 350 people. The picturesque grounds offer photo opportunities for brides and grooms.
Another of Ohlund’s secrets to success is the longevity of his staff.
“All of my staff stay here and have been here for years,” he says, adding that reservations to dine at the Supper Club are only required for large parties. “No server is less than four years here and the others range up to 35 years. Don’t wait for a special occasion to visit. Any occasion is a good time to come to Heston’s.”
Heston Supper Club is located at 2003 East 1000 North, and Heston Hills Event Center is located at 1933 East 800 North, in LaPorte. For more information on the Supper Club, call 219-778-2938 or visit hestonsupperclub.com. For additional details on the Event Center, call 219-778-9595 or go to hestonhills.com.