The Torch Lite supper club has been a fixture on Shawano’s east side for decades. It was originally
built in 1889 to be the home of a Ford garage. Then, in 1897, it became a restaurant known as The
Continental and has known many names, many owners and has been reconstructed and renovated
several times since then. In the 1920s, it was a bar and a restaurant and even had (are you ready?) a
“house of ill repute” on its second floor. It was also a favorite stop for such underworld luminaries as
John Dillinger and Al Capone as they made their way to either Eagle River or Hurley in Wisconsin’s
“Great Northwoods.” The Continental had a nickname, “Dinty Moore,” after a very colorful cartoon
character from the 1913 comic strip “Bringing up Father” by George McManus.
The restaurant changed its name from The Continental to Club Continental and stayed with that
moniker until 1969 when it became the Bavarian Inn. The décor and the cuisine of the restaurant was
then changed to Bavarian and German American.
In 1980, Rita and Phil Anello, who had owned the Harbor Lights (now the Lighthouse) bought the
building and surrounding land from owner Heinz Steinborn. When Rita and Phil bought the place, they
realized it needed to be “fixed up!” After all the tender loving care they put into renovating the old
building, it was renamed Anello’s Torch Lite and became known for its spectacular Italian and
American cuisine and, of course, great service.
From 1981 to the end of 2014, Anello’s Torch Lite was one of the finest and well-known restaurants in
Then came December 30, 2014 and a fire that would change everything.
In the early morning of that December day, about two hours after closing the business for the night,
Rita and her husband John Mondus saw smoke coming out of the Torch Lite. After calling 911, the
Shawano and Bonduel Fire Departments responded and were on the scene by 1:30 am. The below
zero temperature and frozen water hindered the progress of the firefighters and by morning, the
iconic Torch Lite was completely destroyed. All that was saved was the famous “Tin Man” also known
as “The Gladiator,” that welcomed patrons to the restaurant. Rita told this writer it was saved by
Shawano Firefighter Jeff Zimmerman.
Just over six months later, Rita and John were ready to rebuild the Torch Lite and start anew. John
designed the new restaurant and as Rita recalled, “Everything fell into place, like it was meant to be.”
The new Torch Lite opened on May 2, 2016 and once again became a fixture for great food and
atmosphere in Shawano. Open Tuesday-Sunday at 4:00 pm, with Happy Hour being from 4:00 to 6:00
pm and the continuation of their fifty-two-item menu to choose from.
Still, all good things must eventually come to an end.
In April, 2021, after forty-two years at the same location, Rita and John decided it was time for a new
adventure – retirement and they knew the perfect couple that could ‘carry the torch’.
But, the story of the Torch Lite does not end there.
On February 7, 2022 Jody and Cindy Dixon purchased the Torch Lite!
Both Cindy and Jody worked in the electric and gas utility industry for decades. While Cindy was a
customer service representative & operations clerk with over thirty-nine years’ experience- and
retired March 2022; Jody, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and worked as a
Fleet Capital and Vehicle Supervisor, and retired January 2022.
“We wanted to retire, but also wanted to continue working.” Jody told this writer. “We always loved
supper clubs and especially enjoyed the Torch Lite since we moved to Shawano in 2011”.
Both Cindy and Jody said they were “very excited” about their decision to own the Torch Lite and said
there would be no major changes.
“The menu will stay the same, as a matter of fact, everything stays the same. The staff makes the
supper club what it is and we want to keep that going.
So, as one long lasting chapter in the legacy of the Torchlite ends, another begins.