620 Hennepin Ave. was on the notorious Block E in downtown Minneapolis.
The 620 Club was probably one of the seemingly thousands of taverns and night clubs that sprung up overnight at the end of Prohibition in 1933.
The 620 Club’s specialty was turkey, as you can see by the perpetually roasting bird on its sign below
Moby Dick’s opened in the spot in 1971. It was one of the places that made Hennepin Ave. so… colorful. In 1972 part-owner Kip Canton admitted that the place “attracts a lot of hustlers, a lot of pimps, not just Mr. Nice Guys.”
Most people would admit that Moby’s didn’t have the best reputation. But an article by Dali Wiederhoft, a student from Minnetonka, described both the highs and lows of this landmark watering hole. Some excerpts:
On June 1, 1973, the legal drinking age was dropped to 18. That night, the line to get into Moby’s snaked from the front door to 7th St. to the front of the Venice Cafe. The place caught on quickly, and you could cont on waiting in line every Friday and Saturday night.
Moby’s may have been the first truly integrated bar in the Twin Cities. All types of people were there: whites, blacks, Native Americans, foreigners, gays, straights, college students, Vietnam vets, any well-known musician passing through town. …
Moby’s was a bar with many firsts. War veterans who had learned to play foosball overseas flocked to it. The video game ‘Pong’ was introduced there, as were talking pinball machines. Moby’s got a national reputation as the one bar in the Twin Cities that you had to visit when in town. There was even a black market for Moby’s T-shirts.
Then, in late 1975, Moby’s began to change with the rest of downtown Minneapolis. Discos were hot, and so Moby’s added a disco to the back of the bar. What did loud music and dancing have to do with meeting people? We did just fine before. We talked to people.
The bars and restaurants downtown started having problems. As businesses closed and downtown became more and more of a ghost town, Moby’s customers began hitting ‘the Strip’ on I-494. By the late ’70s, Moby’s had lost many of its regular customers.
For a while the troubles were blamed on the bars with strippers. Then they were blamed on the discos, then on the blacks who supposedly flocked to thosse discos, then on the gays, on drugs, on drunks, on street punks and finally on the homeless.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 12, 1988)
MOBY DICK IS HARPOONED
In 1988 Moby Dick’s was owned by Steve and Dick Gold, the same men who owned the Classic in St. Louis Park. As part of the cleanup of Block E, Moby’s had to go. Gold wanted to relocate the bar to the Warehouse District (127 No. Washington) and rename it Herman Melville’s, but the artists in the Artists Quarter would have none of it.
Moby Dick’s closed for good on Sunday, October 2, 1988, and passed into legend.