In the language of the Winnebago Indian, Ishnala means "By Itself Alone"
Ishnala Supper Club
Symbolized by the point of rock extending into the peaceful water of Mirror Lake, long before the arrival of the first settlers, Ishnala was a ceremonial ground for the Winnebago Indians.
Minutes from Wisconsin Dells, Ishnala Supper Club is nestled among the tall Norway Pines overlooking the majestic Mirror Lake in the middle of Mirror Lake State Park. At Ishnala Supper Club fine dining joins with nature to create a truly memorable dining experience.
Ishnala has a long rich history having been first established long before the arrival of the first settlers by the Winnebago Tribe who used the land as ceremonial grounds. Pioneer settlers purchased Ishnala from the tribe in 1826 and constructed a log cabin trading post. In 1909 Ishnala was sold to the Coleman family who converted the property into their dream home, and in 1953, Ishnala was purchased by the Hoffman Brothers who built Ishnala as it is today.
The Hoffman Brothers took great care in converting Ishnala into a supper club and incorporated the natural surroundings into its design. The dining room floor is composed of 76 tons of flagstone from the nearby quarry, while live Norway Pines remain in their original places growing right through the roof, and every table has an amazing view of the beautiful and tranquil Mirror Lake and it’s surrounding bluffs.
In 1973, Ishnala’s current owner, Robert Prosser, began working as a busboy for the Hoffman Brothers’ 8 restaurants, and over many years, he worked his way up to work directly with the Hoffman’s in the management of their restaurants which included Ishnala. Robert considers it a great honor and privilege to continue the outstanding tradition that that began in 1953.
The Hoffman Brothers took great care in building their restaurant into nature and not over it. The dining room floor is composed of seventy-six tons of flagstone from a nearby quarry. Every seat at Ishnala provides a breathtaking view of beautiful Mirror Lake and its surrounding bluffs. No other restaurant can offer you a more relaxing and beautiful dining experience.
Main Dining Room
Ishnala offers a vast array of tantalizing dishes. The menu boasts a delectable variety of savory foods from lake and sea, naturally aged meats and more. Ishnala's staff will make sure your dinner is served to perfection, and you will undoubtedly enjoy the amazing view overlooking beautiful Mirror Lake.
The Arrowhead Bar was given its name for that very reason. The bar was built in the shape of an arrowhead. Enjoy one of Ishnala's many specialty cocktails and spirits while overlooking beautiful Mirror Lake. Make sure you order the most popular cocktail, the Ishnala Old Fashioned!
Pioneer settlers purchased Ishnala from the Winnebago tribe in 1826 and a log cabin trading post was constructed. In 1909, the Coleman family purchased the cabin and built their dream home. The original stone fireplace, log walls and staircase still remain as part of the restaurant's architecture. In 1953, the Hoffman Brothers purchased the land and built Ishnala as it is today.
A Note from Bob Prosser
On the morning of August 6, 1973 I turned 16 years old and commemorated the occasion by applying for a job as a busboy at the Hoffman House in Wausau (Rib Mountain), Wisconsin. The manager, Sam Feldman, who is now my father-in-law of 36 years, hired me with instructions to return at 4pm that very evening. And so the lifelong journey of hospitality began!
I worked at this restaurant as a busboy for 2 years until the age of 18 when I was able to become a bartender. Upon entering college, I continued working for the company, rotating between various Hoffman House properties in Rochester, MN, Grand Rapids, MI, Milwaukee, Madison West, and Wausau. After graduation, my employment was focused to the Grand Rapids, MI and Elk Grove Village, IL restaurants.
I left Hoffman House in September 1981 until February 1985 to work for a chain restaurant in both Louisville, KY and Evansville, IN. I returned to the Hoffman House company that month with an invitation to run the Hoffman House of Rockford. After this transition I married my wife and began raising 4 children while managing the Rockford, Janesville, and Ishnala properties. In 1993 I then became an owner of the company that had been a part of my life since I was a boy. My experience in working at 8 Hoffman House properties and Ishnala Supper Club to this point greatly prepared me for future entrepreneurial endeavors and instilled in me a passion for the industry that persists to this day.
For the past 40 years I have owned and operated 17 restaurants, catering kitchens, and butcher shops, but bar none the most rewarding enterprise has been Ishnala Supper Club.
Ishnala was Cy Hoffman’s project. He lived in Baraboo where he raised a family while simultaneously building a business model that focused on combining restaurants with major hotels in the Midwest. His leadership and foresight, while working alongside his brothers, led to the creation of the first chain of restaurants in the early 1970’s.
Some of the Hoffman Brother bits of wisdom that have most remained with me include:
This sign posted to every Hoffman House entrance: “It’s not the number of people we serve; it’s the number of people we please.”
“Take care of the guests and the numbers will fall into place.” – I have learned that this is not necessarily true, but I agree with the mindset that the customer comes first and that money is secondary.
All in all, the Brothers created a culture that you wanted to be a part of. As a 16 year old kid I was proud to be a busboy at the Hoffman House. And so my goal when I came to Ishnala Supper Club full-time in 2010 was to likewise generate a culture where the staff would find pride in their employment while we created a destination of its own in a tourist area.
A few of our proudest achievements are the recognitions of: the #1 Supper Club in Wisconsin, the #1 Old Fashioned, and the #1 Destination. Additionally, we are proud to have reached a milestone of serving over 100,000 guests in 195 days with a 4.8 approval rating. Another incredible statistic for which we are thankful is the sale of 93,478 Old Fashioned cocktails in 2021.
Ultimately, my ambition is that our guests leave very happy with their experience and that we continue to offer both the best service and the best food in a warm and friendly atmosphere. We are grateful to our guests for sharing in this vision and for supporting Wisconsin’s premier Supper Club.