Steve and Cheri Krabbe began their long career in the restaurant business back in 1980. It was as much out of necessity as it was a natural fit. Steve worked a full time day job and tended bar some evenings at the local bowling alley while Cheri worked in her parent's restaurant, Johnson's Restaurant. Cheri grew up in the business and worked there since a child.
The home building boom of the late 1970s came to a screeching halt - seemingly overnight - forcing the sheet metal shop that Steve worked at during the day to close with very little warning. The tough economic times left the couple with no way to pay for their new house or a new baby boy, Brian. Steve had always expressed a desire to own his own business some day and with no good full time jobs available, it looked like it was going to have to be sooner than later. Cheri knew of Steve's plans when they married and her only request was that the business not be a bar or restaurant because she had worked in the restaurant business her whole life. Now Steve's task was to find a business they could buy with no money down because their savings were gone.
As luck would have it, Larry Peterson, the owner of the Coachlite Supper Club was very motivated to sell. Well, after some very creative financing between Steve, a local bank and a previous owner, Lloyd Lemerande - who would hold a partial land contract - the deal was struck. This left Steve with one small problem left. He had to tell Cheri that he had just bought the Coachlite and convince her it was neither a bar nor a restaurant, but it was a "Supper Club" (essentially a combination of the two) but he insisted it was different. So, at 21 and 20 years of age respectively, the couple began the career they share today. The couple operated the Coachlite from 1980 to 1985 in which time they added a daughter, Amanda to their family.
Suddenly, on a very cold February night, a fire broke out and the Coachlite burned to the ground. At the time of the fire, the couple had wanted to add another child to their family but both agreed that maybe it was better that it hadn't happened yet. Both of them began looking for work because it looked as though there wouldn't be enough insurance money to rebuild. Cheri found a job first at a local knitting mill in Appleton while Steve continued to work with the insurance company.
After three days of working for someone else, Cheri came home from work and slammed her purse to the floor proclaiming, "I don't care what we have to do, we are going to get back in business! Oh, and by the way, I'm pregnant!"
So much for planning. The couple's third child, Jessica was on the way.
After the insurance was settled and fell short by $30,000, finding another supper club to buy when you are that far in the hole would be an even bigger task than before. With even more creative financing and a lot of promises, the couple was able to purchase Frank's Supper Club. This was a well-known supper club operated by the Frank Garsow family for many years. It was ironic that Steve and Cheri would come to own it because it was their favorite place for years. They shared their engagement dinner in one dining room and their wedding rehearsal dinner in the other. It truly was fate that three months after the tragic fire, out of the ashes would rise Krabbe's Kountry Klub!
"Cheri and I have been in our family-owned restaurant business for more than 30 years. A key part of our success is due to our loyal employees. Some of them have been with us for 20 to 25 years. Many of their children are second generation employees. The other part of our success is the thousands of wonderful customers that have allowed us to serve them over the years and hopefully provide them with a pleasant dining experience."
Steve, Cheri and Family thank you all!