The old neon sign is nostalgic for many in the Glasgow community. It's probably one of the few neon signs of its kind left in the area. The bright flash of red, with a touch of green, is familiar to locals and something people were excited to see turned back on after a short hiatus.
Sam's Supper Club was sold to new owners not long after the tragic death of Barb Marsh, co-owner of the restaurant. Joe Younkin finalized the sale several weeks ago to the new owner, Scott Woodward.
Woodward, a Glendive native, already owns a successful restaurant, the Yellowstone River Inn. He was looking to expand and knew the historical Sam's Supper Club was up for sale.
After some time in the community, the new managers of the location, Brandylee Loran and Shawn Hooks, started to hear about the history of the place and learned about what people loved about the place of the past. While revamping the supper club, they ended up bringing back some things from the past, including the windows out the front and a wall that separated the bar from the dining room.
"We've been learning about the place and hearing lots of stories," Loran said. "People are so excited to see the wall back up. We found out there were windows by looking up old pictures online. It really opens up the atmosphere."
While a few items were left behind and incorporated into the new looks, they've given the menu a new flavor. The steaks are still on the menu, something Sam's has been known for since its beginning. The steaks have changed a little, so their looking to bring some of the old recipes back.
Other requests on the menu include the loaded baked potato skins. Then there is Scott's Choice. It's a burger patty in a tortilla, topped with beans, green chili, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.
Their soft opening wasn't as soft as they projected. They were hoping for a slow start to help problem solve, but as soon as customers spotted the open sign people started pouring through the door. The first official day they opened for business was July 23. Every night since their opening more people have visited the location. They ran out of food their first Sunday open and had to close for dinner.
"It wasn't really a soft opening. We'll have to order more food, and the first night we almost ran out of beer," Loran said.
While the old days have passed, some of that old look has people buzzing and stopping in to check out the changes. Loran said that they hope to master what they have before they expand more. Eventually the place will have a casino area and they're talking about getting the patio freshened up, along with adding taco bars, salad bars, enchilada bars, or pasta bars for the lunch crowd.
They've been really focused on finding good staff and keeping them and continue to look for hires for their growing customer base.
"It's our goal to have great service, food, and atmosphere and make it a great place to be," Loran said. "We're working hard on staff morale too so they enjoy their time here."
She explained that several regulars had returned, and the bridge clubs had also returned to the location. For many it's a nostalgic experience where they can remember a different time, where neighbors visited neighbors at the restaurant. Previous owners Becky Erickson and Diane Brandt reminisced over their time at the restaurant. They purchased the business from the original owners, Irene and Sam Allie in 1978, along with their partner Sue Nyquist.
Doug Allie, the son of Sam and Irene, explained that the club opened during the "dam days." He remembers the restaurant fondly and his first job peeling potatoes – when he got in trouble for faking that he peeled and washed all the lettuce but actually tried to hide it so he could go play with friends.
The club had a few names, as half of it started out as a bar, the other half started out as a furniture store. After WWII, the furniture store moved out to its own location. At the time the bar was known as "The Club." Later the Grill Café, a restaurant moved in next door, where the dining room now sits. It ran next to the "Northside Club" for several years and remained open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sam ended up taking care of the café more often, so he eventually bought out the other side and created Sam's Supper Club somewhere around 1960. Irene was a hard worker who always spent shifts working at the place, the kids grew up working there, and Doug remembers tending bar while in his college days.
Erickson said that the Allies were excited for the three young girls who purchased the business together to keep it going. Irene was often seen back at the restaurant as a hostess and would work shifts even after the sale of the business. Erickson said she held a lot of respect for the woman who had put her hard work into the business and that she was full of wisdom.
"I remember when we gave her the last payment; Irene nearly cried, and we all celebrated that night," Erickson said.
Irene gave many words of wisdom during their time as owners of the business. One of those tips she gave was that a really good cook could keep the customers coming in, as well as address your customers by name.
Brandt said that she ran the bar a lot of times. The two named off several employees who cooked, bartended and waited tables. While Nyquist sold out her part of the business around 14 years later, Brandt and Erikson waited to sell until 2004, but it was after they celebrated Irene's 90th birthday at the location.
Doug also carries many memories of the place, time in the meat house, and hanging around the red phone as livestock sales came in for steaks. Customers could sometimes select their cut of beef as they were cut off.
"I remember three beers for a buck," Allie said. "I can remember certain people who had certain drinks and certain tables, and after work certain groups of people would always come in."