In 1934, a supper club called Turk's Inn opened its door in Wisconsin and started serving up the likes of brandy old-fashioneds and pilaf. George "The Turk" Gogian was the owner of the place, which quickly became a beloved addition to the area. To set the scene, here's an excerpt from The Supper Club, a celebration of these establishments written by Dave Hoekstra:
Customers walk into Turk’s Inn and are met with a pseudo-living room setting with an old piano and a Chinese golden pheasant and silver pheasant preserved in full wingspan. There’s a partridge, not in a pear tree but on the crowded wall of this Harem Room, which is regarded as the supper club’s lounge... the rural setting made Turk’s popular with politicians from the state capitol in Madison, a few hours south. They could kind of let their hair down a little bit...
The Sultan Room (bar area) is across the hallway. The rear ninety-seat Kismet Room (for good luck) affords a tranquil view of the woods with a walkway to the Namekagon River. And off to the side of the Kismet Room is the exclusive Gogian Room, with white tablecloths, green linen napkins... You could get lost here. That’s what George did.
The Wisconsin Restaurant Association's Ed Lump wrote just ahead of its closing in 2013, that Turk's was "a unique place, not just to Wisconsin, but almost anywhere. It's too bad when you see these businesses fade into the sunset."
Soon after it closed, everything was auctioned off, and a lot of it ended up in... Brooklyn. And now, this summer, that old-school supper club will be recreated (along with its Sultan Room), in Bushwick.
Given the detail that's gone into its meticulously-detailed recreation (which as of 2017, had cost $3 million), Turk's Inn is an anticipated addition to NYC, if the new owners can pull it off.
Here's a little more history of what's trying to be recreated here: Gogian, the proprietor of the original Turk's, was an Armenian immigrant from Istanbul, who, according to Hoekstra, first worked as a chocolatier in Philadelphia. He lost his candy factory during the Great Depression and made his way to the Midwest, first to Minnesota and then Wisconsin, where he was taken with the area. There, in Hayward, he opened up Turk's, which he operated with his wife, Isabelle "Ma" Gogian, for years. The iconic supper club entertained locals and out-of-towners alike for years, and lore has it that even several of the Kennedys reportedly found themselves there.
In the 1970s, the couple's daughter Marge, who had been a fashion designer in New York City at the time, came to Hayward to help her parents with the business after her father had a heart attack. By all accounts, Marge, like her parents, was an exceptional and welcoming host, and that's part of what made Turk's Inn so special.
Marge helmed the restaurant until her death in 2013, an event that led to the closing of the longtime supper club, and that's when Varun Kataria and his best friend, who had gone there in their youth, bought up everything they could of Turk's, and moved it all to New York, according to The Verge.
A source recently told us they're finally readying to open their doors, and the restaurant's recent job postings confirm that. The Executive Chef posting on LinkedIn describes Turk's as a "60-seat dining room inspired by the original" and notes it will feature a take-out kiosk with shawarma (which is already open), as well as "a rooftop patio with 40 additional dining seats," and the aforementioned venue, The Sultan Room.
We'll update this post when we know more about the exact opening date for all arms of this operation (though a source told us it would be around June 24th).
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Marge, the Original, posing in front of a portrait of her younger self. Marge spent her life running the Turk’s Inn with her father, George. She spent 5 years in NYC studying fashion before she was called back home to Hayward, WI to help run the family business. If she only knew what we have built for her! She’s back in NYC!