The stylish dining room at the Anvil Club.

The Anvil Club: Serving Up Great Food, and History, Too

The stylish dining room at the Anvil Club.

The Anvil Club, a private supper club at 309 Meier St., East Dundee, is steeped in history. The original building, 138 years old, was first owned by wheelwrights and then, by the local blacksmith, who operated from 1911 to 1954, when he put the building up for sale.

That’s when it caught the interest of 10 prominent Dundee businessmen, who were searching for a home for a new supper club where club members could relax and be served top-of-the-line steaks and seafood and the occasional cigar. That dream was realized on Feb. 10, 1956, when The Anvil Club opened with seating for 75.

Aside from the dimensions, little of the building has changed since then: 100-year-old tools of its former trade hang on the walls, including a huge foot bellows, which once blew life into the business’s fire; descendants of the founders sit on the board; steaks and seafood are served in a quiet setting; the occasional cigar is still enjoyed on the terrace.

“The building itself lends a lot to the great atmosphere,” says Assistant General Manager Chuck Kolner. “There aren’t many places that feel as homey.”

In the main dining room, remnants of the smithy’s hearth still stand, along with the brick shelves that were converted to a bar when the club first opened. Although many of the artifacts are original to the space, some are borrowed, such as the two renovated oil lamps rescued from the El tracks in Chicago, and the imposing, ornate bar, which began life in a long-forgotten Chicago theater.

In 1960, the Board Room was added, as a space for the founders to hold meetings, and the two main dining areas, the VIP Room and the Who’s Who Room, named as a tribute to the intricately carved owls that peer down from each of the four corners. “One of the guys that started the club collected a lot of woodwork, and he brought these back from Germany,” Kolner explains. The Club also serves as a 60-seat banquet facility.

The semi-private Normandie Room has 12 chairs, rescued from the 1930s-era luxury cruise ship of the same name, tucked around a table. At the far end of the adjoining Saddle Room is a weather-beaten door, which once served as the entrance to The Everleigh Club, one of Chicago’s most opulent houses of ill repute, opened in 1900 by the two Everleigh sisters. Originally from the Levee District, the door sports a mysterious bullet hole, which may (or may not be) attributed to the sisters’ neighbor, Al Capone.

A veranda and a number of smaller rooms, including the Wine Cellar, which seats eight people and is a private 300-locker wine storage area for members, complete the dining areas.

While its history is compelling, the food is what keeps members coming back. Weekly specials include Tuesday’s Surf and Turf ($34.95); Wednesday’s Seafood Tower, consisting of 12 oysters, 12 shrimp, smoked salmon with toast points and jumbo lump crab meat ($49.95); and Thursday’s Prime Rib ($26.96). If they prefer, members can receive a monthly bill rather than the normal check at the end of dinner.

“We’re known for our steaks and seafood, great service, big drinks and great martinis,” says Kolner. “We have a wine list with 150-plus wines, and 15 to 20 wines by the glass. Our prices are very competitive.”

Despite the increased competition on Randall Road, from upwards of 30 large sit-down chain restaurants, the club remains vital. “The club is still thriving, people enjoy coming here, because of the food and the service.”

As a rule, potential members are required to be sponsored by current members. But the club is now welcoming visitors and encourages interested parties to call Kolner at (847) 426-7710. The initiation fee, usually $250, is now $150, and yearly dues are $180. ❚