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Monday, January 10, 2011

pop-we Dinner Club: You Too Can Create Your Own Dinner Club

Food brings people together. Those of you who know my husband and I well, know we like to eat out. Our tastes encompass fine dining, chain restaurants as well as mom-and-pop cafes and dives. To us mom-and-pops as well as dives are our favorite places. To date, my favorite turkey burger in town is served at Benson’s very own -- Danny’s Bar & Grill.

Danny’s is tucked away behind a strip mall off of 2007 North 72nd Street in Omaha, Neb. When you walk in you’re greeted with a feeling that you’re in a relative’s basement with the eclectic sports memorabilia scattered throughout. The room in the back, which went through a remodel a couple years back, is decked out with paneling. The backroom is not for the faint of heart; since, it is lined with a couple stuffed animals. Televisions are also mounted in every corner for sports enthusiasts. Most importantly, beware they embrace Packer fans. 

I’ve yet to come across a turkey burger quite like the one Danny has created. It is Danny’s own special recipe. It is off the chart with taste and unlike some of the hoity-toity burger joints in town it doesn’t need caramelized onions or guacamole to make it melt in your mouth. Talking to the owner, we think the breadcrumbs he uses for his homemade recipe might be the burger’s secret weapon. Before we moved to Elkhorn, we would meet my in-laws at Danny’s almost every Sunday for lunch. I miss those days and have longed to find another burger place closer to home. But I digress about my food affair with Danny’s turkey burger.

While commiserating with a group of friends after a night of sand volleyball we decided to start a dinner club. At our first gathering (which I’ll share in the weeks ahead) it was unveiled to us the inspiration behind our club. One of our buddies told us that he could remember his mom belonging to a supper club while growing up. For years they’d meet at area restaurants; however, now with most of the members in their 80s they take turns hosting it at each other’s houses. He recollects they’ve been dining together for more than 25 years.

Other dinner type clubs are available. My husband has a friend at work whose friends host a shrimp boil quarterly. They have a set of rules, which is enforced by ridiculing those that forget. First rule is the shrimp must be in the shell; second rule -- no plates -- just throw down some newspaper and dig in. Their clubs’ concept is to eat with your hands (no utensils) and easy clean up -- it all goes in the trash.

Anyone can start a dinner club themselves. The goal of our club is simple camaraderie, food and libation. So, look in the coming months for reviews on metro area restaurants from pop-we dinner club members. In the meantime, here are some tips on how you can start your very own dinner club with friends or family courtesy of our pop-we dinner club co-founder Rick.

Time will only tell if we will find a turkey burger that will surpass Danny’s closer to home. Until then, join us for our reviews from pop-we dinner club: good food…good friends…good times.

Guidelines for Starting Your Own Dinner Club:

1.      Try to attend the dinners.  If you miss three in a row you may be replaced.  If you really can't make it, that's okay (weddings, funerals, sickness, work, etc.) but we want people that look forward to going.  If only one of you can attend that's fine.

2.      If you want to drop out -- that's fine but please try not to quit when it's you or your spouses/significant others month to decide on the restaurant.  Give as much notice as you can so if someone else would like to go. 

3.      If someone cannot attend on a particular month, let the person responsible for the dinner plans know ASAP and they will have first chance to invite someone else to fill the spot.                                           
4.      Figure the dinners at $20-$25 per person -- tops.  Can be less but if it will be more, you may want to send out an e-mail and ask everyone first.  (Please make sure everyone has your e-mail address)  
5.      Six couples at least for starters. 

6.      Each person will be drawn to select a place. 12 people - 12 months - 12 different places.    
7.      Any restaurant is fine.  The goal is for this to be an opportunity to experience a restaurant that you may normally not have gone to or that you think others may not know about.  But if you want to pick Sizzler or Famous Dave's, that fine too.  It's your month. 
8.      There is no maximum distance other than keep it reasonable.  If you think it might be too far, it might be a good idea to send an e-mail and check with the rest of the dinner club participants first.     

9.      I would like to encourage everyone to write a brief review of the experience and share it with the others.  Be honest.

 If it's your month...
1.      As soon as you have a place in mind, call and ask them a few questions.  Do they accept reservations?  Will they do separate checks?  Will the tip be included on the check?  Can they sit 12 together?   (This should be done at least two weeks ahead of time)     
2.      E-mail everyone and let them know the date, time and place and ask if there are any concerns.  If you can, include a link of the menu.  (This should be done one to two weeks ahead)  RSVP's should be sent back ASAP.                                                                                                                                               
3.      The night of the dinner, please try and arrive about 15 minutes early to get everything in order with the restaurant before everyone else arrives.
Danny's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown


  1. What a fun way to stay connected with friends. I think socialization is great!

  2. Barb: I totally agree with you. Good food, good friends and good times is what our dinner club is all about.

  3. Our mom and her friends have informal dinner meetings from time to time and it is so important for her well-being. I do think you have to be sensitive to include people. Before mom retired, there was a gathering scheduled at a local restaurant. There was a co-worker who had approached a supervisor at one time about invites who was told that he or she could not control what people do during off hours. Mom did not want the person to feel bad hearing about the gathering as she sat around them. She arranged for an invitation to be extended to this lady. She went and it turned out that she was pretty sophisticated and knew a lot about wines. I liked the time that you came to the party that I had and brought your true and false game! You did some great ice-breaking as you met some new people!

  4. Barb: Growing up I remember mom’s auxiliary group coming over for supper. Mom served appetizers and often had those yummy after dinner mints, which I still love today. Hearing their laughter and chatter while peeking down the stairs we knew they were always having a fun time. Friends are a great support system. Similar to mom, I go to dinner with a group of girlfriends on occasion -- we call it “Ladies Night Out.” Girlfriends are a great support and I’m glad mom has such a great group of women to lean on in her life.

  5. Oh, yes I remember the green theme with green mints, and green punch as mom hosted around St. Patrick's Day one year and possibly more. :)

    For those who might be interested, it was an Extension Club. Mom said that her aunt who lived in a little town in Nebraska by the Kansas border had the very same lessons.

    Mom and Aunt Anne were in the club together. Do you remember the picnic where the families were invited? I think the park had a few flights of stairs leading to the picnic and playground area.

    Mom and Aunt Anne were later in a water exercising group that would often go out to lunch together. People they met in the exercise group became good friends and one of them would become one of Aunt Anne's closest friends. Many of them were older than mom and Aunt Anne who were probably in their early thirties when they started. And it was a wonderful cross-generation experience. I know people who have joined the group after mom and Aunt Anne who enjoy the fellowship. The ladies really kept a watchful eye on our Uncle after he was widowed.

  6. Barb: You forgot to mention that Jan and Wayne (my in-laws) have also joined the same YMCA water aerobics club. Over the past couple years, they too have enjoyed the fellowship of their newfound exercise partners and fellow foodies.