Both Auctioneer's Inn (the original in Kansasville, WI, and a second, Auctioneer's Inn 2/QuickSilver Nightclub, in Elm Grove) were gay owned and operated.
The original Auctioneer's Inn was opened by a woman known as Colonel Hope, who was gay and well known in the gay community. Her restaurant (open from 1972 to 2007) was out in the middle of a cornfield, and attracted a huge following from mostly the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, gay and straight. It had a celebrity following as well on occasion (Liberace was a frequenter and friend of the Colonel's when he was still living). The restaurant featured 2 and 3-pound Australian rock lobster tails.
The Colonel was a singer as well as an auctioneer, and entertained weekly in the dining room. The old saloon style restaurant was filled with antiques from the Colonel's auctioneer days (the prefix of 'Colonel' was both from her army experience and from her rank as an Auctioneer).
Quite a number of well known gay citizens worked at the original Inn, including a well known M&M bartender.
The original Auctioneer's Inn went to Hope's youngest son after she died, but it has since failed and changed hands. The place's name was been changed along with its interior, obliterating completely its once colorful past.
(Webmaster's note: to my knowledge, neither of the Auctioneer's Inns ever advertised in gay or lesbian media or otherwise attempted to attract gay or lesbians in any organized fashion. So while it may have been gay owned and gay friendly, it was not strictly a "gay business" in the definition of this website.)
Credits: Bulk of information and photographs contributed by Rick Stabler, Sept. 2009
with additional recollections collected and organized by Jamie Taylor.
Website concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: October-2009.