Bio: Kuester, Tom (Amber Inn - 1974)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Kuester, Cizak, Lewis, Sinatra, Meredith, Jogan, Sneed, Ireland, Booth
----Source: Tribune Record Gleaner (Loyal, Clark Co., WI) 5/23/1974
Kuester, Tom (Amber Inn - 1974)
Mingling with Mary (By Mary Woods)
The time is 12:45 a.m., the people are local businessmen, farmers, or visitors to the city of Loyal, sitting around talking about the day’s activities, the latest sports happening, or sharing a joke over a drink. The location of the scene is the Amber Inn, and Tom Kuester gets his guitar out, and sings a few songs making everyone relax with a quiet song, bringing the day to a close. It’s all a part of being a bartender, and since May is National Tavern Month, this reporter dedicates her column to the businessmen and women who perhaps serve more people than most of us ever will.
Born and raised in the Greenwood area, and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Kuester, Tom Kuester graduated from the Thorp High School in 1958. While attending school he participated in sports, with much emphasis on basketball. In his four years of playing basketball he comments that the team lost one game that stopped them from going to the state tournaments.
Upon graduation, he began working for the Koehler Company and later worked four years at the American Motors Company in Milwaukee. With a desire to travel and see different parts of the country, he moved on to Reno, Nevada where he dealt 21 and Crap. He attended Dealing School for six weeks while at Reno and learned the “right” way to do things in the gambling city. Kuester comments that while out in Reno he worked at the Harris Club where many famous entertainers performed, such as Jerry L. Lewis, and Frank Sinatra. He remarks that he was working at the time of the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. which created a lot of excitement in the area and throughout the country.
Asked about the gambling, and the winners, and the losers, Kuester states, “I saw a man lose $37,000, and believe me, he didn’t walk away with a smile.”
After working in Reno for one year, he moved on to California where he played in a four-member country and western band, the “Rockets.” The band toured the country between California and Texas, playing at many different night clubs. Kuester remarks that he taught himself how to play guitar when he was younger and enjoys playing and singing whenever he finds time. Speaking about the band, he states, “It was an enjoyable experience and the meeting of people in the different states and traveling around was an experience in itself.”
After being out west for a while, Kuester decided to come home, and in 1964 married Darla Cizak. After their marriage, they moved to the state of Texas, which Kuester had grown fond of, and he began working as a bartender once again. His work gave him the opportunity to work the bar for the Colonial Golf Tournament in Fort Worth. He comments that he worked while such pros as Don Merideth, Ben Jogan, Sam Sneed golfed with such stars as John Ireland and Shirley Booth in attendance.
Still moving around the country, the Kuester’s returned to Wisconsin in the fall of 1966, and farmed in the Withee area for over a year, and later purchased the Silver Dollar Supper Club. They operated the club until they moved to Loyal, purchasing the Amber Inn in December of 1972.
Commenting on the role of bartending, Kuester remarks, “It’s an occupation that gives you an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. You hear every phase of people’s lives from the very sad to the happiest experiences, and no matter what you hear or who you talk to, you always have to be in the best mood because being a bartender and Supper Club owner, part of your responsibility is making people happy.”
The Amber Inn has become known in the area for the fine food served nightly, except Monday, which is cooked under the supervision of Darla Kuester. Anyone who has visited the supper club is well aware of the fact that both Tom and Darla Kuester have added something very special to the Loyal area.
Once again, the Kuesters will move on to a different field of work. Tom will join in a partnership of four men in the operation of Metro Sporting Equipment of Neillsville, and Darla will have the opportunity to spend more time with their three children, Tom, Tammy, and Jodi. She also plans to do some substitute teaching in the Owen area.
As of July 1, 1974, the guitar that was used frequently in the Amber Inn will no longer be used to bring the day to a quiet close, the conversations may be the same, the drinks will still be served at 12:45 a.m., but everyone will agree that something will be missing from the atmosphere of the local supper club – whether it is the personality and cheerfulness of Kuester, or the place where everyone knows that they are welcome to join in on a conversation – only time will tell.
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