Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gobbler Links: Updated!

"My mom and my dad just both liked the color pink. Some people like green, some like blue, they liked pink."

-- Clarence Hartwig, Jr., quoted in Linda Godfrey's "The Gobbler Lives"

Many of the websites that were featured on the original post are now defunct, but archived links have been provided where available courtesy of the wonderful Wayback Machine.

You can obtain information on the current status of the property by contacting the real estate agency representing the current owners. More information is available at (Please note, I am not connected with the property owners or the real estate agency in any way, and I can not answer any inquiries about the property.)

The Gobbler Motel and Restaurant now has its own Facebook page. (Please note that while this page lists this blog's link in the "About" section, I am not connected with the page, or its authors/owners.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gobbler Gala Set for June 6th, in Johnson Creek WI!

Gobbler Motel and Restaurant Fans have an exciting date to mark on the calendar - the Gobbler Gala is coming to the one-of-a-kind former restaurant on June 6th! Wisconsin State Journal's Doug Moe give us the details:
...On June 6, The Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin Tourism Program will host "The Gobbler Gala," a dinner and discussion at the building in Johnson Creek, just off Interstate 94, that was once the Gobbler Supper Club.

There will be a catered gourmet turkey dinner and speakers will include Jefferson architect Helmut Ajango, who designed the Gobbler, and Wright historian Sidney Robinson, formerly of the University of Illinois-Chicago, now with the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. As one who rarely missed an opportunity during a Madison-to-Milwaukee run to duck off the highway and seek refreshment at the Gobbler, I am both amused and pleased by this development.

The idea came from Jack Holzhueter, retired after many years with the Wisconsin Historical Society, and a Wright Tourism board member. He enlisted another board member, Margo Melli, a Madison attorney and law professor, and together they persuaded the current owner of the Gobbler property, Jefferson attorney Raymond Krek, to go along. Though the restaurant has been closed for several years, much of the interior is still in place and Holzhueter said there's even a chance they'll get the revolving bar operating.

The only real problem is explaining the uniqueness of the Gobbler, which for most of its years had a motel adjacent to the restaurant, to those who never experienced it... [read the full article at the Wisconsin State Journal]
You can read more about the Gobbler's Motel's history and 2001 demise at our sister site, farkleberries.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Gobbler Motel and Restaurant: The Television Commercial

From what I've been able to determine, this catchy commercial aired in the Milwaukee/Madison area broadcast market in the early to mid 1980's. Look closely, and you can see the restaurant's padded vinyl seating, the rotating bar, even the dance loft rendered in loving hand-painted detail! There's even a brief glimpse of the motel entrance in a pan shot.

I don't know the exact airdates, or which creative/advertising agency put it together, but it's delightful.

[Kindly uploaded to YouTube by user "miaotong"]

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Once Upon A Time, in Wisconsin...

There was a place called The Gobbler.

The motel's design was a unique spoked "Prairie" style semicircle; luxurious purple, red, blue and pink shag carpeting graced many of the Gobbler's surfaces in its early-1970's heyday, a period when grooviness meant a bedroom covered floor-to-ceiling in the stuff.

Every detail - from lavender vinyl dining room upholstery to built-in 8-track stereos [in the "business suites" - as if we couldn't guess what sort of "business" was conducted in a motel room with a red shag-covered heart-shaped bed] exemplified over-the-top kitsch luxury.

Staying at the Gobbler, a traveler could enjoy hip sleepquarters, and then roll downhill for fine dining specializing in Meleagris gallopavo at the matching Gobbler restaurant. That would be - ahem - gobbler, because Clarence Hartwig Sr., the original owner of the complex, was a well-known Wisconsin turkey farmer.

Some people believe every object contains a bit of the energy of everyone that came in contact with it: considering its rich lore, that alone would have been enough reason to keep the Gobbler standing. Sure, we can't keep every old building - we'd be overrun with collapsing hulks in a few generations. Still, we can try to remember the interesting, the adventurous, and the unique. The Gobbler certainly was all of those.

Don't forget to stop by the recently-updated (April 2005) Gobbler Links section, with connections to fresh news stories on the Gobbler Motel and Restaurant!

Down, But Not Exactly Out

We beging our story in October 2001, when the circular Gobbler Motel looked down, but not exactly out. The siding was cracking, yellow-brown weeds shot up in unlikely places (like windowsills), and the blue landscaping gravel surrounding the entries was peppered with beer bottles and cigarette butts: the Gobbler had sunk to a nighttime make-out hangout for the locals. Tellingly, a black flocked plastic-letter board toothily revealed chunks of the motel's newest name:



Purple Windows and Shag, Shag, Shag.

In fact, the Gobbler had been renamed King Arthur's Inn several years ago. Walking around the low-slung, swoopy perimeter gave one a view of the exterior-situated rooms, some visible through parted curtains (with the exterior glass shielded by purple-tinted Lucite™) - most of the legendary shag carpeting was long since replaced by more serviceable (and hygienic) indoor-outdoor pile, but the fake stone interior was essentially intact - giving the impression of a cheapie Mod Adirondack ski lounge.

The rear part of the motel, where the swimming pool and shuffleboard court once were was also in dire need of attention; two glass doors, uncloseable because of some mechanical flaw were secured with a thick chain and an ordinary padlock. Every room was dotted with miscellaneous leavings and debris, like carpet remnants, empty paint buckets, and wood scrap. Not the sort of property that screams "DEVELOP ME!"


We spotted the fabled "eyeball" railings as we peered through the smudged glass doors of the lobby (see the photo at the top of this page). As you can see, the interior was done in a hunter-green duotone motif, a la Wal-Mart, circa 1990. You can see a triangular brass colored lighting fixture on the faux stone (well, maybe it was Z-Brick™ - I didn't get a chance to touch it for myself) fireplace, which itself was composed of metallic bars wedged between its upper and lower section, possibly to suggest "flames".

The white object in the lower left hand corner is an abandoned laundry cart. You know someone left in a real hurry when you find a half-empty laundry cart in front of the lobby door. There must have been an ill wind in store - perhaps a frosty Wisconsin one, redolent of cow belches.