Supper Clubs Revisited: The Persian Club
WJON is continuing our series of Supper Clubs revisited in the St. Cloud area. The Persian Club opened on New Year's Eve 1961 on the south side of St. Cloud on 33rd street and Oak Grove Road Southwest. The owner of the Club was Al Kirmeier. The Stearns History Museum recalls the history:
In the 1950s Al Kirmeier operated a marina in Long Beach, California. While in California, Al became enamored with a bar and restaurant called The Persian, which was known for its generous drinks and delicious food.
When Al opened a restaurant on New Year’s Eve 1961 in St. Cloud, his favorite hangout in Long Beach inspired him to name it The Persian. The restaurant site was on Kirmeier family land, Al and his brother, Roger, cleared 130 trees, dug a 40 foot deep well, and poured the cement foundation themselves.
The supper club thrived on customer service and good food. When the club first opened Al would dress in a suit and his wife Pat in a gown, and they would greet customers by name. By 1982, The Persian supper club could seat over 1,000 people, averaged 150 weddings annually, used over 2 tons of charcoal a month, and hosted countless other parties and banquet events. What made Al so successful?
He was said to have, “kept ahead of the times with far-sighted vision to create his own excitement with the added touch of warmth and personal attention to his customers.”
After over 30 years of running The Persian, the Kirmeiers retired in 1995. In 1997 the restaurant was reopened as Gambini’s Fine Dining and Nightclub by Pete and Michelle Benincasa, and today the building is used by ProcessPro.
The photo above shows an advertisement for The Persian supper club from 1982.
John Decker and Steve Penick from the Stearns History Museum and longtime St. Cloud resident Jim Grabinski joined me on WJON this week. The 3 recounted times they spent at the Persian and what made it special and so successful for so many years. If you'd like to listen to my conversation with them it is available below.