MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Minnesota’s state fish – and whether you catch or order, it’s pretty darn delicious. With the fishing opener this weekend, we wanted to know who serves up the best walleye dinner in Minnesota.
Your votes sent Natalie Nyhus to a place where the restaurant holds as much history as the secret recipe. This is Fisher’s Club in Avon.
The Fisher’s Club is the kind of place that is built on stories. Perched on Middle Spunk Lake in Avon for nearly 85 years, it’s had a way of out-living almost all of its owners.
“Grandpa Fisher started it in the 1930s,” his daughter-in-law Liz Fisher said.
His name was George “Showboat” Fisher, and he had a .374 batting average with the Washington Senators and St. Louis Cardinals. He retired and opened a hot summer hangout: the Fisher’s Club.
“It started out as a little beer joint, and then they started serving fish for free,” Liz said.
His kids would catch sunnies and they’d fry and serve them up, until a savvy customer made a suggestion.
“Someone asked Grandpa Fisher, ‘Why are you giving it away free? Why don’t you don’t you sell walleye?'” Liz said.
And that’s how their famous walleye dinner started. Showboat passed it on to his son George Junior and wife Sally who kept their popular walleye recipe under lock and key. To this day, the only people who know what’s in it are current owners, the Voss cousins. And they’re just as tight-lipped.
“I’m not going to tell you that, no!” Cory Voss said.
In 80 years there were just three sets of owners, until it closed in 2012 and sat empty for two years, housing nothing but memories locked inside..
“We were bummed out, because it was definitely a staple in the community,” Cory said. “Kind of like a second home we can come to and have fun and see people you know at every different table.”
So the Voss cousins who worked there as bus boys and beyond, pooled their resources and bought the place — and they didn’t change much.
“Probably one of the first decisions — and the biggest question we asked — is, ‘Do we keep the red wallpaper?'” Cory said.
Another tough decision was bringing in a full bar to replace the bottle club. Those liquor lockers that bear the names of those who helped write the history of Fisher’s will stay, along with the red wallpaper.
“You know when you’re doing it right because they don’t say anything,” Jacob Voss said. “As soon as anything is off — ‘What’s wrong with the potato salad this week?’ I boiled the potatoes, maybe.”
And the Voss cousins get that — working hard to honor the memories and customers that have been here for generations.
“There’s so much history that people have from the surrounding area that peopole have with Fisher’s Club,” Jacob said. “Being able to preserve that history for everybody and to be a part of that is awesome.”
The Fisher’s Club is open Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 4 p.m. This summer, they will start serving lunches Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They’re open for the season through December.
Your other favorite spots for walleye dinner are the Tavern on Grand and Magnolia’s in St. Paul.