Following Our Cookbook
On recent travels, Don and I had one night in Cody.
We were pretty darn delighted to learn that Cassie's Supper Club was still a happening place after many, many years. How did we find out about Cassie's? Once again, we were traveling with a few vintage cookbooks, put out by Ford Motor Company. Whenever we're lucky enough to find a restaurant that is still in operation, we stop!
Cassie's Supper Club
We headed west of downtown Cody and spotted the snazzy sign! It looked pretty much the same! In the cookbook illustration you can see the showgirl, tipping her top hat and the parrot perched on top. I read later that the owners, Ole and Mabel Nelson (in 1963 when the book was published) had a pair of parrots that were well known to customers.
The facade had changed from stucco to an Old West Saloon look, but it was still set far back from the road, like the picture. We were just a mile and a half from downtown, so I had expected to see the place squished in between shopping centers. That's one big parking lot and I believe it actually gets filled up.
There were quite a few cars, considering the time of day. We headed towards the door near the Buffalo Bar sign.
Hungry, Curious, Thirsty?
The "Howdy Folks" above the door was welcoming enough, but I kind of liked the other words... especially the word "curious".
Greeted by Beasts
Just inside the door, we met up with lot of stuffed fellows. They were keeping a good eye on the huge space. Over the years, Cassie's has expanded to 20,000 square feet, with numerous levels and rooms.
We stepped in to get a look at the first bar, which wasn't open, yet. There were some rustic stools around a curved cedar bar and lots of goodies you'd expect in western bar, like mounted longhorns and cow skulls.
Greeted by Melody
Then we met Mel who filled us in on some more history after she had a good laugh at the book. She tole us about Cassie, who opened the Supper Club in 1933.
Cassie had already spent a number of years running a house for "Ladies of the Night" in Cody. She and another madam were encouraged to close their establishments, so they opened Cassie's for dancing, liquor and later dining. Mel was kind enough to pose with the fine cookbook, right in front of Cassie's original "cabin", which is behind the Restrooms sign. I'm still a little unclear about what this "cabin" was all about. But I know the rest of the building is built up around it.
Mel was pretty amused by the recipe for Chicken Cream Salad. "No, I'm afraid we don't serve this." She laughed as she studied the ingredients with minced chicken, gelatin, mayo and heavy whipped cream... Mmmm. Not to mention, celery, stuffed olives, shredded lettuce and tomato!
Saved for Later!
Mel made sure she got some pictures of the colorful page with her cell phone. The old cookbook claimed that the creamy chicken dish was a favorite of the diners! I don't picture the loyal customers today begging for this salad. Most come in for the huge steaks!
Mel told us to feel free to look around and there was plenty to see. We heard the dance floor gets pretty crowded, especially on rodeo nights. We could barely make out the letters that spelled Cassie's, engraved into the wood floor.
The room was surrounded with western art scenes. The painted wood panels were spotlighted high on the walls. Just past the first piano, were a couple levels of dining areas with white tablecloths and some very early (or late lunch) diners quietly eating. Every room seemed to have its own flavor.
Towards the rear, we found a completely different style of bar. Smooth, polished wood, stained glass, Victorian style wallpaper. I would have loved to have lingered till the place was filled with customers, to see if the two bars attracted different kinds of crowds.
And the Lounge!
The only bar that was open before 5 was a lounge that took me to a completely different era. There were painted western murals and some knotty pine... slick orange booths with branded wood trim. We so wished it had been dinner time or later!
Sharing with Steve
As Don and I headed to the car we heard a voice coming around the side of the building. "Is that the cookbook?"
We stopped and had the best time chatting with Steve Singer, who grew up a couple houses down from Cassie's. His parents knew the Nelsons and sometimes on weekends, he and a few other kids (sibs or friends?) would get to pretty much have a sleepover in the old "Cassie's Cabin" area.
Steve studied the book illustration and pointed where the big trees in the picture once stood. He also remembered how the place looked before the 1980's, when new owners gave the rambling building a wooden facelift and covered all the bumps and warped features.
He clearly had an appreciation for preserving the past.
Steve had fond memories of Cassie's, not just from childhood, but from performing there as a young man. His band West The Band, entertained regularly for 20 years and then he bought the place in the late 1990's. He and Mel have continued to serve up great meals and provide almost nightly live entertainment, but they've also spent time retrieving a lot of Cassie's old history. Many of the original treasures from Cassie's have surfaced in recent years.
Off to Our Hotel
Don and I headed to our hotel, knowing we would eventually be hungry and regret what we'd missed. The Irma Hotel also had lots of history, as well as a restaurant and saloon. It was built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill Cody and there was much to explore while we worked up an appetite.
The Cherrywood Bar
Eventually we ate a simple salad and a sandwich at this gorgeous carved bar. It was a gift to Buffalo Bill from one of his big fans, Queen Victoria. That's an amazing story. But we were served by a summer worker from Eastern Europe and she knew nothing about the history. There was no live music and no dance floor.
Dining in Cody?
We left Cody with some good memories, but our travels only allowed us enough time for 1 meal in Cody. Next time, we will come hungry and have a real dining adventure at Cassie's! Not just juicy steaks, but maybe some dancing on the big wood floor! Next time!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.