Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Landmark War Eagle Supper Club in Auburn to Close Its Doors

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Landmark War Eagle Supper Club in Auburn to Close Its Doors

Article excerpt

AUBURN | Wednesday afternoon, John Brandt arranged dozens of merchandise orders on the front bar of the War Eagle Supper Club after going without a single one in the last month. He looked up from his task and surveyed the walls around him, covered from ceiling to floor in car tags, T-shirts and posters.

"It's all kind of brand new to us," he mused. "We weren't expecting it to get out so fast."

Earlier that morning, Brandt confirmed with The Corner News that the War Eagle Supper Club would close its doors at the end of 2015. New Year's Eve will be the Supper Club's last night on South College Street.

"My whole adult life has been in this building," he said. "There are just too many memories."

Brandt started his tenure with the Club as a doorman in the early 1980s and bought into ownership in 1985. The property was recently sold to a new owner, who allowed the Club to continue on its existing lease until the end of the year. Brandt and co-owners Mark Cadenhead and Cory Hattier learned they wouldn't be able to renew the lease four or five weeks ago.

"Nobody wants to see that place go down, but it's out of our hands to be honest with you," said Cadenhead, who started bartending in the early '90s and became partners with Brandt in 1996. "We were hoping we would be able to renegotiate the lease, but their terms were a little more than we were willing to handle."

He said the Supper Club's last night will be a tough one.

"I've heard many people say that's where they met their wives and their ex-wives and everything else," he said. "It's going to be a sad day when it does close. It means a lot to Auburn alumni."

The Supper Club building was built in 1937 and operated as a brothel after World War II, former owner Hank Gilmer said. The building housed Stoker's Steakhouse in the '50s and later became a pizza joint under the ownership of H.H. Lambert.

During the height of the civil rights era, bars and restaurants across the South were transitioning into private clubs to circumvent integration. During that time, in 1961, the Supper Club became a private club and took on its now-iconic name. Gilmer was a member when he was an Auburn student and bought the club, along with his father, Henry Jr. …

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