Listing the hundreds of live music venues that operated in the Twin Cities from the 19th Century to 1974 may be an impossible task, but it’s great fun! If you have any to add or corrections to make, please contact me. I also appreciate any personal stories!
Listings (below) are mostly in alphabetical order; if there were multiple venues at one location, I’ve put them on one page and they’re listed at the location in chronological order. If you know what you are looking for, you can use the search in the menu bar.
When I cite Stebbins, I am referring to a Ph.D. thesis written by Robert A. Stebbins in 1964 The Jazz Community: The Sociology of a Musical Sub-Culture. See the section on Sources on the Home Page.
Many of these photos and information come from the folks on Facebook. I try to get permission to quote people and give credit on the photos. If I’ve grabbed one of your photos and not given you credit, please let me know!
I have BOXES of additional information and hundreds of additional photos to insert, so watch this space!
Also, hotels are not listed under “H” but under their other name, thus Nicollet Hotel, not Hotel Nicollet.
Shows at these venues are ONLY listed on their Venue page, not on the Events page:
- Excelsior Amusement Park/Danceland
- Guthrie Theater
- Eagles Hall/Labor Temple
- Metropolitan Sports Center (“Met Center”)
- Minnesota State Fair
- Someplace Else
The 14th Circle was a folk venue at Hamline University.
19 West 15th Street, Minneapolis.
26 Club on Lake Street featured jazz from the Korta Quartet but lost its cabaret license, forcing it to stop live music at 11 pm.
305 Club featured jazz during at least 1961 – 1964.
The 311 Club was located at 311 West Broadway in Minneapolis.
It was a 3.2 bar that featured Country music.
The building dated back to 1887. In 1912, 311 was a saloon.
In 1941 the operator of the bar was Andrew Folta.
It appears from permit records that it became a bar in about 1948.
Sherwin Linton and the Fender Benders played there in 1959.
The Blue Water Boys performed in January 1961.
In March 1963, the operator of the tavern was identified as Mrs. Judith Collins.
In September 1963 the bar was for sale.
In December 1964, the City’s liquor committee threatened to revoke Richard C. Nelson’s 3.2 license because he failed to reveal the true ownership of the bar.
A permit to demolish the building was taken out on May 12, 1971. The dimensions of the building were given as 75 x 75 x 26 (2). Two buildings?
331 – 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis. I have absolutely no idea about this, but I had this great photo, so here it is! Besides, it was identified as a “Club” from wherever I got it. Feel free to set me straight!
The 4-M Club was advertised in the Minneapolis Spokesman as a “Twin City New Dance Hall” in May 1952. It was located at 150 West 4th Street, across from the St. Paul Auditorium. It was never mentioned again in the Spokesman.
The 49 Club was located at Highway 49 and County Road J at the border of Lino Lakes. The ashtray below says New Brighton, but Ryan Kelzenberg wrote to explain that “At that time the area wasn’t well known and oftentimes the Post Office that covered the area was used as the closest large city.”
The club was founded in 1962, according to documents from 1993, and was considered one of the “doors” into Lino Lakes.
The ashtray below says that the club had live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
A June 1966 article gives the owners as Ralph L. and Anthony Nathe. Ralph Nathe died in Bemidji on November 28, 1992, at the age of 68. In 1993, Dave Nathe petitioned for improvements on behalf of the club.
Below is an ad from a 1969 desk blotter put together and distributed by Pat Richie, late owner of Richie’s Razor Repair.
TROUBLE AT THE 49 CLUB
In December 1989, Brian David Patterson killed a U of M researcher from Nigeria and his three children after having 9 or 10 drinks at the 49 Club and driving drunk. He was offered rides home from friends and from staff at the bar but insisted on driving home himself. He plead guilty and was sentenced to 63 months in prison. The family’s crumpled car was attached to a billboard in St. Paul erected by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The widow and mother of those killed filed a lawsuit against Patterson and the bar.
In November 1993, Dave Nathe, on behalf of the 49 Club Bar/Restaurant, requested permission to replace the front wall with 42 feet of glass to provide additional seating and “brighten up the interior, which presently contains no windows.” The proposed upgrade, “while not a complete answer to improving the exterior image of the club, is a substantial improvement over the current facade,” wrote the Lino Lakes Economic Development. The statement of need stated that the interior would be “transformed from a dark and dreary area with no windows into a very bright and open space with over five hundred square feet of glass.”
Highway 49 no longer exists. It originally followed Rice Street from downtown St. Paul into the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, shifting a northern termini between Interstate 35W and also the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. In the late 1990s, the route was cut back to end at Interstate 694 in Shoreview and then fully removed shortly after. Guide signs at the County Road 23 exit from Interstate 35W in Lino Lakes were marked as “OLD 49” for five years after the removal; these signs were removed around 2003. (Wikipedia)
THE END OF THE 49
On November 16, 1996, a rainstorm caused water and ice accumulations on the flat roof over the banquet hall of the 49 Club, which damaged the roof and caused flooding in the banquet hall. The Nathe Brothers (owners) claimed that the roof actually collapsed from accumulations of water and ice, but their insurance company contended that the roof merely sagged. The matter was taken to court.
The building was vacant since approximately 2003. It had become a blighted location with illegal dumping and vandalism instances occurring on a regular basis. (Quad City Press, October 2016)
The building was deemed “structurally substandard” by the City Council on April 11, 2016. It was demolished in October 2016.
See a memoir of that includes the 49 Club on YouTube.
Thanks to Tom Lauducci for helping with this venue!
The 617 Club is now at 2185 Fourth Street in White Bear. It was named after its former address, 617 Fourth Street; the address was changed in the 1980s.
The bar opened on March 9, 1934 – previously it was Mel Kirkby’s Sweet Shop, which usually meant a speakeasy. Paul Albrecht was the original owner.
After over 30 years Albrecht sold it to Rod Olson, a longtime employee. The bar was remodeled in the mid 1950s, adding stained glass imported from Germany. As traditional, employee Mary Montpetit bought the bar in 2003 from Olson.
The 617 House Band was once a popular draw on Sunday nights, hinting at previous live music.
[Info from White Bear Press, August 6, 2014, Kristine Goodrich, Editor]
6311 Club was at 6311 Cedar Ave. So. – “Only Place Past Lake Nokomis on Left Side of Road” in July 1943. Beer and Lunches, Dancing. Amar, Prop.
3404 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, 1958
The Academy of Music was built in 1871 at the corner of Washington and Hennepin Avenues in Minneapolis. It was built by Joseph Hodges.
The building originally had three stories, and measured 80 feet on the Washington Ave. side and 114 feet on the Hennepin Ave. side. No where did I find an address or an indication as to what corner of the intersection the building was located, although my best guess is the southeast corner. It had a Mansard roof, with terra cotta window caps and galvanized iron cornices. The name of the building was on the Hennepin Ave. side.
The basement held the Central Hall, for use by organizations for parties, balls, banquets, and private functions. The Hall opened in mid-December 1871. It was equipped with a ladies reception room, stove room for cooking refreshments, coat rooms, and restrooms. It measured 110 feet by 40 feet, enough to accommodate 12 sets for dancing. (Minneapolis Daily Tribune, December 6, 1871). The YMCA held its Annual Festival and Oyster Dinner there on December 29, 1871.
The first floor hosted six shops, which had 15 ft. ceilings.
The main stairway to the second floor was on Hennepin Ave.; another was in the alley. The second floor had ten ft. ceilings. The second floor is divided into offices and the ticket office for the Academy of Music.
The Academy of Music was on the third floor of the building. The Minneapolis Daily Tribune described it at length on December 31, 1871:
To be appreciated it must be seen. It is 80 x 85 feet in front of the stage, and is divided into parquette, dress circle and balcony, and will seat about 1,600 persons. The parquette rises 18 inches, and each tier of the dress circle rises four inches, and in the balcony each circle rises nine inches. The parquette and dress circle are provided with upholstered orchestra chairs, and the balcony with reversible seats. The balcony is supported by iron columns, and has an iron rail upholstered in red plush. There are also proscenium boxes, each of which are ornamented with carved work. The extreme height of the building is 39 1/2 feet, and is supported by bolstering trusses framed and secured by rods in such a manner as to be void of any side thrust, leaving only a perpendicular weight upon the walls.
The walls are adorned with a portrait of Beethoven, which occupies a place in the center of the arch, while upon either side are stauettes of Misses Nillson and Kellogg. The dome, ceiling and walls have been frescoed by P. Clansen, and their appearance are really beautiful, and reflect credit on that skillful artist. There are two chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, each having fifty-six lights. The room is therefore brilliantly lighted to the remotest corner.
The stage is 33 feet deep and 78 feet wide with a proscenium arch 35 feet high and 30 wide. The drop curtain is really beautiful. It presents a mountain view as seen from the terrace of a castle. There are also eleven full sets of scenery, with sky and drapery borders, set-woods, water, &c. These are all the work of R.H. Halley, of London, an pupil of the great Telbin, and the equipments are equal to any theatre in the country.
The carpentering was done by David Pratt, who has been conneccted with McVicker’s theatre in Chicago for years, and has fitted this stage with all the appliances necessary to the production of any play. Above and on either side of the stage are six dressing rooms, all conveniently arranged.
Interestingly, the article makes much of the efforts to make the building fireproof.
The Academy of Music was dedicated on January 2, 1872.
Early musicians and conductors were A.M. Shuey and pianist Ludwig Harmsen. The latter came to Minneapolis in 1868 and continued active in musical circles until his death in 1915. (Minneapolis Tribune, August 28, 1949)
On May 1, 1873, Thomas Lowry and the Herrick Brothers purchased the building. Lowry sold his interest in 1875 to Dorillus Morrison.
The Herrick Brothers redecorated and added new scenery and dressing rooms in 1876. At that time the building was deemed to be unsafe if a fire were to break out, so a third egress stairway was added.
An article in the Daily Minnesota Tribune (January 1, 1883) indicated that the Academy had “outgrown its usefulness” and that a portion of the Syndicate Block was being made into an Opera House to replace it, to be ready in the middle of February 1883.
On March 24, 1883, the Daily Minnesota Tribune reported that the Academy of Music would soon be reconstructed into a handsome business block, six stories high.
It is clear that the new Opera House replaced the Academy of Music, as the sale of tickets to the Grand Opening of the Grand Opera House was conducted at the Academy in March 1883.
The last performance at the Academy was the comic opera “The Electric Spark” by Atkinson’s Jollities on March 28 and 29, 1883.
On March 30, 1883, the Daily Minnesota Tribune gave this eulogy:
The curtain was rung down for the last time at the Academy of Music last evening, and this well known place of amusement will soon be transformed into a business block in which green rooms, supes, and transformation scenes will be known no more. The building has served its day and generation well; and though the onward course of events has pushed it aside and it is no longer equal to the demands made upon it, but must give place to a newer, better and more pretentious rival, it will always be remembered by those who have been amused or instructed within its walls with gratitude and pleasure. The company that had the honor of closing its career as a place of amusement was Atkinson’s Jollities. Soon bricklayers and carpenters will so transform it that it will be speedily forgotten by the throngs of amusement seekers, but nevertheless many will remember the good times spent in the Academy of Music long after all trace of it has been obliterated by the onward march of the city.
An ad by Big Boston, a clothing store in the building, announced a sale necessitated by the pending demolition of the building by July 1, 1883, and the erection of an 8-story block (large building) in its stead. (Daily Minnesota Tribune, May 1, 1883). It didn’t happen, and Big Boston was still in the building to the end.
Instead of being totally demolished, the building was gutted, enlarged from three stories to five, and turned into an office building in 1883. Only the outer walls of the original building were used. The reconstructed building was ready for occupancy on November 1, 1883. Indications are that the building continued to be known as the Academy of Music Block
THE GREAT ACADEMY OF MUSIC BLOCK FIRE
The building burned to the ground on December 25, 1884. Several factors made this fire almost impossible to put out: (Minneapolis Tribune, December 26, 1884)
- The call was put in at about 3:30 pm; as it was a holiday, the building was virtually vacant, but at the same time, it was difficult to find firemen.
- The temperature – 15 below during the day, 30 below by midnight – put the firemen in danger, turned the water to hail, burst a hose, and turned the street into a skating rink.
- From newspaper reports, it doesn’t sound like the source of the fire was ever found. A Tribune reporter was on the scene almost immediately, and entered the building to investigate, but smoke pushed him out quickly. A fireman made it to the fifth floor, where he got trapped and for some tense moments until a ladder finally made it to him and he was rescued.
- The building was deemed “a fire trap” more than once in the article and no one wanted to risk life and limb to go in.
- Individual gas meters were exploding, adding to the danger.
- The building had a glass skylight and a saloon with a large plate glass window; all of the windows eventually burst from the heat of the fire or the effects of the water/ice.
The Minneapolis Tribune reported that “The crowd seemed to be having an extraordinarily good time.” In other words, there was some looting going on, especially at E.H. Steele’s Boston One-Price Clothing Store. One man was caught wearing three coats and was thrown in the clink.
The report hints that the fire started in a back elevator shaft, but it is not an official report from the fire department.
THE LAW LIBRARY
The Minneapolis Bar Association’s law book collection was lost as well.
Nearly two years ago Thomas Lowry kindly donated his splendid collection of almost 1,800 volumes to the lawyers of Minneapolis, and they immediately formed a library association. The collection has been continually added to until there were upward to 5,500 volumes in the library. The value of the collection is placed at $18,000. ($15,000 was insured.)
Demolition of the building began in March 1885. The Temple Court business block was constructed in its place. A look at the current map shows three of the four quadrants of the intersections as vacant land, and the fourth as a building built in 1964.
The Ace Box Bar had two locations, both in St. Paul.
2360 UNIVERSITY AVE.
2360 University Ave. (at Raymond) is the Specialty Building, named for the Specialty Manufacturing Company. The space that was the company’s lunchroom in the 1930s became the Ace Box Bar and Cafe.
The photo below shows that the bar had a bandstand – at this point hosting the Arions, “America’s Only Blind Road Orchestra.”
In 1937 the bar was owned by Edward H. Sharretts, a boxing promoter who was profiled in the Minneapolis Star on November 6 of that year.
The Ace Box was at this location at least through September 1941, when a robbery occurred.
Caffe Biaggio has been in this location since 2002.
2162 UNIVERSITY AVE.
2162 University (at Vandalia) had previously been Cozy Lunch.
The Ace Box relocated here sometime between September 1941 and the end of February 1945.
The photo below from the Minnesota Historical Society is labeled with the 2162 address and is dated 1940, which cannot be. Note the Hillbilly band, a popular genre at the time.
The Ace Box became the Dubliner in 1996.
St. Paul – jazz venue
Addison’s Bar was located at 1504 E. Franklin Ave. in Minneapolis.
ADDISON’S BAR AND LOUNGE
I found this matchbook online, and had no idea if it was a music venue or not, but I figured maybe the word “lounge” implied a lounge singer?
A peek into the Minneapolis Star and Tribune archives shows that this was a mobbed-up bar owned and managed by various members of Kid Cann’s family, and I’m glad there was no music involved so I don’t have to go through it all! The first hit was in 1937, and the last was in 1988, when it was known as Addison’s Bar a/k/a The Bear’s Den. It was demolished in about 1988.
I put the question about whether there was any live music on this page, and got lots of answers! This, my friends, is why this is not a book – the information keeps rolling in!
The first person heard from was Gary Bush, who wrote:
Then I got this great email from Jim Schaefer about the Bear’s Den:
Two adjacent buildings I shot along East Franklin I remember well, but the negatives show no address, which I would like to know. Current Google street view shows they have both been replaced with new construction, so I googled the business names. One was a tiny “lounge” bar, the kind that has (or used to have?) only one window and that was curtained. The signs in the parking lots on either side identify it as the “Bear’s Den.” That is the name I googled; it shows up in only one response to my query, where it is identified as “Addison’s Bar / Bear’s Den” at 1504 East Franklin. That’s it where your matchbook came from. I haven’t worked on this negative yet, but I’ve attached a quick-and-dirty thumbnail image of it.
Jim’s quick and dirty image is the perfect size for me! Thanks, Jim!
Cindy wrote to say:
Adolph’s Bar was located at 4151 West Broadway in Robbinsdale. (There was another Adolph’s Bar at 408 Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis in 1934.)
The first we see of Adolph’s Bar in the Twin Cities papers is in the Minneapolis Star Journal on October 13, 1939, when it is listed in the bowling scores.
Flo Ann (Jullie) Tauber’s husband Adolph opened the bar, and at some point he was Robbinsdale’s Fire Chief. But Flo was probably running the place by 1950. She also owned Jullie’s Menswear and wrote “Flo’s Chatter” in the North Hennepin Post.
Adolph’s was a popular destination for underage drinking, dining, and dancing – Sherwin Linton performed there in 1962. So did Conway Twitty? One patron remembers that they had a twist contest there every week in about 1965 or ’65.
One source lists it as a jazz venue.
In June 1964 the owner of the bar was James Zaccardi.
In September 1965 the new owner was apparently someone named Marxen, who advertised for two waitresses and two bar maids who doubled as go-go girls.
On September 10 and 11, 1988, the bar was advertised for sale in the Star Tribune.
The Robbinsdale Historical Society reports that the bar burned down on September 15, 1988.
The Air-O-Inn had two locations.
6600 34th Ave. So.
The original location was in Richfield. Greg Rohlen wrote that it was a staple for those working at the airport and for folks flying out of the airport. This location would be on a taxiway at the airport today.
The Air-O-Inn was around by at least October 1933, and was probably one of many post-Prohibition taverns that popped up all over the place after 3.2 beer became “non-intoxicating” as of April 7, 1933. Here’s the earliest ad I found:
Jack Hohag was the proprietor in 1942. An all-girl band presided at the bandstand during this War year, and stuck with Jack despite offers from Chicago to thank him for taking them in during their lean years. (Minneapolis Star Journal, July 12, 1942)
2731 E. 78th STREET
As the airport grew, the building was moved to Bloomington, on the present 494.
The Bloomington News reported that the Air-O-Inn would reopen for its regular dancing, refreshments, and fine food at its new location during the week of October 12, 1950. The new owners were Ted Terp and Tony Gerkowicz. The newspaper reported:
The building looks just as it used to when it adorned the corner of 66th and 34th avenue south, only that it is turned around now, facing north. A full basement has been provided and equipped for private parties. The surrounding spacious parking space has been blacktopped and the front of the Inn beautifully landscaped with cedars, spruce and pines.
The owners will feature their regular dance parties and promise first class orchestra music every night.
Everett McClay VFW Post 1296 bought the Air-O-Inn and took possession of it on October 15, 1951. It announced its intention to hold old time dances on Thursdays and modern dances on “Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.” Jack Hohag would appear on Thursday nights. It would also start up Bingo, a popular game at its former location on Lyndale and 79th Street (which became the Ranch House). (Bloomington News, October 11, 1951)
This legendary St. Paul bar was located in at least three places in St. Paul. The following is pieced together and any help is appreciated to correct or clarify the information.
Alary’s shows up early and often in the St. Paul Musician, the newsletter of the St. Paul Musicians’ Union, which helps to indicate that music was present! Let’s abbreviate this as The Musician.
From the bar’s present website:
Every legend has to start someplace. Ours begins with Al Baisi who played for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s. He was a tough, uncompromising SOB. And we have no idea what the people who didn’t like him thought.
Baisi and many of his teammates went into the service during World War II. He returned to football after the war and was released from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1947.
It’s starting to look like Baisi (with or without partner Lawrence Lehner) started his publican career as the proprietor of Heinie’s Club Bar, located at 347 University Ave. (at Virginia) in St. Paul. Heinie’s is mentioned in 1948 in The Musician, and in or by 1950 Heinie’s had become the New Trocodero.
In 1949, Heinie’s took over the Drum Bar. This prime downtown St. Paul location, next to the Strand Theater, had many tenants during the years:
- Fadden’s Restaurant, 1911
- Bubbie’s Cafe, 1928
- Zephyr Cafe, 1938 – 1941. In February 1941, the Zephyr advertised for Entertainers, dancers, singers, m.c.’s, novelty acts, burlesque skits, exhibitionists, etc.
- The Drum Stage Bar
In November 1949 the Drum got in trouble for staging a female impersonator show, which probably put them out of business.
The Drum had become “Heinie’s new spot” at least by May 1950, according to The Musician.
Although the Alary’s website says that they immediately renamed it the Alary’s Club Bar, combining the names Al and Larry, news reports are confusing.
In February 1952, Al and Larry were in trouble selling liquor to three teenagers on New Years’ Eve, 1951, at their bar called Heinie’s at 444 Wabasha. The pair also owned a bar called Ship Ahoy at 18 East 8th Street in St. Paul. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 20 and 26, 1952)
[Complicating the matter even further is that there was another Heinie’s at 2601 26th Ave. So. (the future Duffy’s), as cited in May 1950. That other Heinie’s was put up for sale in August 1952 and sold in about February 1953. (Heinie was a popular word back then, used to describe both a buzz haircut and a nickname for a man sporting one.) ]
So sometime between 1952 and October 1954, Al and Larry changed the name of their bar at 444 Wabasha from Heinie’s to Alary’s. On the latter date, The Musician was still referred to as “Alary’s (Heinie’s),” perhaps indicating that the name change was fairly recent.
From November 1954 to April 1959, Augie Garcia was a frequent entertainer.
Fire destroyed Alary’s at 444 Wabasha on August 24, 1956. The Strand Theater, on the right, and the Tower Theater (not shown) on the left, suffered smoke damage.
This was the former location of the Flame Jazz Bar. The Flame had been closed by the end of 1955, so it’s possible that Alary’s moved right in.
Augie Garcia continue to entertain at this location until about October 1959.
In February 1970, Baisi was hit by two shotgun blasts after he had taken a waitress home at 2 in the morning. He may have lost significant sight in one or both of his eyes.
In January 1977, Jon Bream described Alary’s as a decades-old strip club. He gave it a similar review in 1979.
An article in December 1998 noted that the bar closed in 1985; urban renewal was coming to St. Paul, and with the World Trade Center going up across the street, Mayor Latimer made it clear that the now-seedy bar wouldn’t fit into the new scheme of things.
WEST 7th STREET
After moving off of Wabasha, it became a neighborhood bar – sans the strippers – on 7th Street, for ten years.
139 EAST 7TH STREET
Al Baisi and his son, Al, Jr., wanted to return to downtown St. Paul, and in December 1998 they opened yet another iteration Alary’s, which they hoped to be the hub for local Bears fans. The elder Baisi, now 81 and blind, had a special place near the back of the bar where he never tired of telling of his glory days as a football player for the Bears. (Star Tribune, November 23, 1998)
Al, Sr. died on April 15, 2005.
Albert’s Supperclub was located at 6th and Cedar Streets in St. Paul.
It is listed as a new downtown nightclub in a 1973 article in the Minneapolis Tribune (December 3, 1973).
A note says that “an entertainer sings and plays the piano much in the style of Johnny Mathis, Tuesday through Saturday nights.”
The Alcan Club was located at 3700 West Broadway in Robbinsdale.
DE MERS BROS. SALOON
Treffle “Truffy” De Mers and his brother George, French Canadians by birth, operated the DeMers Bros. Saloon at this location in 1903, and probably until 1920. As often happened, when Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, the building became a “confectionery,” which was sometimes shorthand for a speakeasy. The 1920 and 1930 Census both listed it a confectionery. (In 1930 George was working at a laundry.) When Prohibition ended, Truffy apparently either added liquor to his inventory, or turned his establishment into a tavern and liquor store.
In 1942, the business was purchased by Joe DuPere and Art Bolier, two Army veterans who had been part of a group of Robbinsdale men who had worked on the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway.
For three years, from about 1955 to 1958, the tavern was owned by Moose Sherritt, who changed the name to (natch..) Moose Sherritt’s Tavern.
THE NEW ALCAN
In 1958, Sherritt went into “private business” and sold it to John Pappas. John was previously in partnership with his brother George as owners of the Club 26 at Hennepin Ave. and 26th Ave. So. The North Hennepin Post reported that as of April 10, 1958, the name would become the “New Alcan.” John Pappas said that he planned to remodel the building, adding a false ceiling, new floor, and aair conditioning. He also planned to remodel the upstairs hall, which was rented for community events.
According to the Robbinsdale Historical Society, the building was torn down in the late 1950s. The empty lot near the corner of 36th ad West Broadway was a used as a mini golf course until 1964 when Guaranty Bank opened on the corner.
This venue was located at Marquette and Sixth Street South.
Edgar wrote that during the summer of 1885, the first stock company presenting light opera in the city was seen there.
Aldrich Arena was primarily an ice skating/hockey venue, located at 1850 White Bear Ave. in Maplewood, described in 1964 as “St. Paul’s East Side.” Built in 1962, the arena was named for the late Gene Aldrich, who pioneered the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament in 1944.
There were occasional concerts there but I didn’t find many. Most were big events hosted by radio stations.
On June 5, 1964, KDWB presented The School’s End “Battle of the Bands in the Round!” with:
- Gregory Dee and the Avanties
- The Jades
- The Lancers
- The Mystics
- The Wanderers
On July 14, 1964, KDWB sponsored a “Super Colossal Midsummer Hop!” aka “Battle of the Bands in the Round” at Aldrich Arena. Appearing were:
- The Underbeats
- Keith Zeller and the Starliners
- The More-Tishans
- The Tremadons
- The Sting-Rays
Larry O’Connell says the best Battle of the Bands took place at Aldrich Arena during the summer of ’65: noon to midnight!
SCHOOL’S OUT SPECTACULAR
June 10, 1966, was the fifth annual “School’s Out Spectacular” at Aldrich Arena in St. Paul, sponsored by KDWB. Over 5,000 kids attended the event, dancing to eight bands, including the Ides of March and Dee Jay and the Runaways. Funds raised went to the Ramsey County Jr. Sheriff”s Patrol for rain coats, hats, and safety signs.
Here’s a photo of the Summer 1966 Battle of the Bands, featuring the He Too’s. (Thank you, Debra Deutsch Erickson!)
On May 7, 1967, the “Psychedelic Soundburst” (or Sound-Burst) took place at Aldrich Arena. The show, emcee’ed by KDWB’s Charlee Brown and Earl L. Trout III, was billed as the “Biggest Dance in the History of Aldrich Arena” and promised the world’s best light show – the Fillmore Light Show. The Music Scene reported that the show was presented by Rich Hanson, who planned another for June called “School’s Out – Book Burning Blast.” (did this happen?)
Featured performers were:
- The Del Counts
- The Hot Half Dozen
- Danny’s Reasons
- The Litter – “a group that equals The Electric Prunes in sight and sound”
- Grasshoppers – Headliners
- Happy Dayz(e?)
- Sir Raleighs
- The Chancellors, just home from triumphant tour of Kansas
- The High Spirits
JULY 4, 1967
Nick Tschida described a big, 12-band show at the Aldrich Arena on July 4, 1967, that went from noon til midnight, sponsored by B Sharp Music Store. Bands participating included:
Aesop’s Phaebles, Nick’s band, which led off at noon. Nick remembered there being 1,500 kids there, even at the beginning of the show at noon!
- Metropolitan Soul
- Del Counts
[7 more bands]
Nick says, “Fun Gig ! Jimmy Lopez had the stage all set up with B Sharp’s equipment….Had a great time!”
BACK TO SCHOOL
In August 1967 the Fillmore Light Show came to Aldrich Arena, with six top bands (unnamed in the ad). This may have been this:
On August 21, 1967, a 12-hour Back to School dance was held at the Aldrich Arena, featuring the following local bands: (Thanks to who ever posted this poster on Facebook!)
- The Mystics
- The Del Counts
- Pride & Joy
- The Marauders
- The Bananas
- The Grasshoppers
- Sunshine World
- The Sir Raleighs
Gypsy played a benefit concert on May 10, 1972. Profits were to go to Anicom, a Minneapolis-based sound company whose technicians were involved in a serious truck accident several weeks before. Also performing were:
- Pepper Fog
The venue continues to be used primarily for hockey and graduation ceremonies.
Alkali Ike’s Eatery and Saloon was on Highway 101 just north of the 7-Hi Shopping Center in Minnetonka. In July 1973, Jody and the Jonquils performed nightly in the Saloon: “Their original dance routines and their variety of pop tunes, country western music and show tunes have entertained thousands of audiences.” Another ad was for Delores Del-Rae and Her Vitamin E Trio – I’ll bet that was a fun act!
The Club Alla Bar was located in White Bear Lake.
It was run by Alfred J. LaBarre, and was extant by at least April 1941. I thought I’d be clever and look for Al in Ancestry.com, but honest to goodness, there are two Alfred J. LaBarres from St. Paul, one born in 1899 and one born in 1900. Dang!
The directions in the ad below are complicated: two miles east of Hoffmann’s Corners on County Road E and East County Line, or two miles north of North St. Paul on East County Line.
We learn more from the folks on Facebook:
- “There used to be a dirt road loop probably less than a quarter mile north from the intersection of East County Line and County Road E. My dad told me when I was a kid that this was Alla Bar Lane.”
- “I remember the shopping center at 244/County Road E and East County Line Road.” Indeed there was an Alla-Bar Shopping Center in 1962 and 1963; in 1962 it included Wayne’s Department Store.
- “East County Line is the same as 120. Hoffman’s Corners is still on the corner of Highway 61 and County Road E.”
- “Soft wooden dance floor which bowed with too much weight on it. Illegal speakeasy. Washington County Sheriff chased LaBarre when he was smuggling in kegs; LaBarre had a huge engine in his truck and left him in the dust.”
St. Paul – jazz venue
The Aloha Club Ballroom was on Highway 13, 2 miles west of Prior Lake in 1954. Dance by Moonlight – comfortably heated – on Beautiful Spring Lake. No age limit. Percy Hughes, Judy, and Dickie Mayes performed Fridays and Saturdays in April.
The Alps was located at 801 E.78th Street in Bloomington. It opened in May 1966.
The A-frame building had three levels and was frequented by stewardesses, pilots, and other airline folks due to its proximity to the airport.
In July 1966, Will Jones reported that when it opened there was a Dixieland band and the plan was to have some Dixie, some rock, some “banjo singalong.” After a few weeks, though, It became all rock. Jones’ description of the place was pretty visceral:
It’s easy to understand why, after a recent look-in on a Saturday night. the place was throbbing with an immense, almost frightening, youthful vitality, aided and abetted by an acoustical quirk that in most places would be considered a problem but in this hall has almost become a virtue as it magnifies the din to unbelievable proportions.
At the time the house band was Danny’s Reasons, and Jones had (I think) good things to say about him:
Stevens is not a mere performer, but a writhing star among writhing stars. I’d recommend a visit before somebody grabs him and signs him for a lifetime of beach-party movies.
The place must have gotten too loud – in 1967 it had a “super soft” sound. The Insider reported that as of December 1968 it had been closed for many months because it was too noisy for an adjacent trailer court.
The club voluntarily closed in January 1969 after the Bloomington City Council imposed regulations on noise affecting both the inside and outside of the building.
In July 1969, the building opened as Anthonie’s Clothing. Anthonie’s had previously been located at 4826 Chicago Ave. Anthonie’s was started by Anthonie (Tonie) Peterson, who had been in the clothing business since 1933.
The following two photos come from what looks to be a postcard:
On December 8, 1974, fire swept through the back of the building, causing $50,000 damage to the structure and $200,000 damage to the inventory. Wells M. Gustafson, the owner of the building, expected insurance to pay for the damages. Witnesses saw children playing in the area prior to the fire around 8:00 at night. The store quickly recovered.
Anthonie’s closed in October 1989. Tonie Peterson died in June 1990.
On June 1, 1999, the building became A Frame Antiques, an antique mall with several vendors.
A new (1999) building sits at the site today.
Not sure a strip joint belongs here, but their ads appear in every paper, including the Minnesota Daily! One from December 1944 in the Republican Register advertises a show with a cast of 40, including Jessica Rogers and Jack Diamond. The ad doesn’t give an address but seems to indicate the name was Alvin and Hirsch’s. In 1952 Dagmar was all the rage.
Ambassador Motor Lodge, Highways 100 & 12 in St. Louis Park. The Ambassador (1961-1991) had three possible music venues:
- The Kashmiri Room was the main restaurant and had a dance floor. The Percy Hughes Trio was the house band from 1973 to 1982.
- The Cocktail Lounge might have had some live music.
- The Mandalay Lounge had a piano bar, for many years featuring Marilyn Sellars. It was apparently renamed Manders.
Located at 444 Rice Street in St. Paul, this was a three story building erected in 1920. Originally called the Deutches Haus, it was the center of German cultural activities and groups. The $180,000 building contained:
- A 1,000 seat theater
- Bowling alleys
- Pool rooms
- Conference roomss
- A rathskellar
- Dance Hall
Other names for the hall were:
- The German-American Hall
- The Dutch Hall
- The German Hall
- American Hall (1932)
- German Clubhouse
- German House
- Dutch House (1940)
On December 15, 1941, the members of the German House, formed in 1920, voted to change the name of the building from the German House to the American House.
The American House was a natural for polka dances:
WTCN broadcast Whoopie John from the American House on Saturday nights. This ad is from the Minneapolis Star, April 29, 1949.
On April 20, 1958, an ad appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune for an auction of all fixtures in the building, in anticipation of demolition. The building was removed for the Capitol Approach project.
Some information for this page came from the following source:
Jane McClure, “German House,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed September 20, 2018, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/226.
Antlers Park was a 40 acre amusement park located on Lake Marion in Lakeville, Minnesota. Colonel Marion Savage built Antlers Park to attract passengers to the Dan Patch Railroad. The postcards below identify the owner as George O’Rourke.
Rose Anne Hanft:
In order to attract a multitude of passengers [to his Dan Patch Railroad, Marion] Savage put Antlers Park on the map [named in allusion to the former abundance of deer in this region]. It was located on the southeast shore of Prairie Lake [renamed Lake Marion in honor of Savage], and contained summer homes and facilities for picnics, boating, swimming, fishing, hunting and dancing. The excursion trains to Antlers Park were always very crowded. Those who remember riding these crowded trains remember the good times both on the ride and in the park.
Whole families would make this trip, and, for the children, it was the big event of the summer. They would arrive at 54th and Nicollet early if they wanted a seat. At 11:00 am, a Dan Patch train pulled out of the terminal and headed south through the beautifully hilly country, past the many small stations named for the farmers whose lands the tracks cut through, past the Auto Club, the Savage farm, and finally reached Antlers Park. The people swarmed off the train and scattered to the different areas of the park. [A Minneapolis Tribune article dated April 7, 1912, reported that it took 40 minutes to get from the terminal to the park.]
The college groups usually went to the attractive pavilion. In one end of it, there was an ice cream parlor where sodas, sundaes, pop, but no liquor, were sold. The rest of the pavilion was a dance floor, tastefully decorated. Beautiful chandeliers hung from the ceiling, murals decorated the walls, and the floor was made of exceptionally fine wood. The open side of the dance floor had a vine covered walk. There was always a good orchestra and dances were 10 cents for a set of three.
The people had a choice of eating a picnic lunch on the well-kept picnic grounds or in an elaborate eating place off the grounds. In the evening a band played music out on the end of the dock. The little children had fun swimming in the clear lake and riding on the merry-go-round and Ferris Wheel.
Everything in the park was up-to-date, including electricity. The means of obtaining electricity was unique. The engines of the Dan Patch provided transportation to and from the park, and the number one engine of the road, the Augerita, supplied all the electricity for Antlers Park. The Augerita ran for only one year, and because of her small passenger capacity, she was put on a siding in Antlers Park where her powerful engine generated all the electricity for the park’s facilities. [A Minneapolis Tribune article dated April 7, 1912, reported that an electric light plant was being installed at the park.]
From the Lakewood Area Historical Society:
Antlers Amusement Park became one of the most famous amusement parks in the upper Midwest. It contained a lavish dance pavilion with a gleaming oak dance floor; a large bathing beach that featured a dock, diving tower and high sliding chute; a boat dock that offered sailboats, rowboats and canoes; a children’s playground with a miniature operating train for children; tennis courts; an athletic field and baseball diamond with a grandstand for spectators; and an aerial swing. A nine-hole golf course was located nearby. The Dan Patch Railroad Line [provided transportation to the park.] Luxury excursion cars with real leather seats, stained glass upper windows, and richly carved and inlaid wood brought thousands of visitors to the park each summer. On weekends in the summer of 1912, these trains reportedly made 19 scheduled runs each day.
The area was already popular with wealthy families from southern states who came to escape summer heat and humidity. These families and other visitors stayed in cabins located around the lake or at Weichselbaum’s Resort, which was famous for its fried chicken, apple pie and homemade ice cream. The amusement park declined in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s due to a combination of factors – the advent of the automobile, the Great Depression, and several dry years that saw Lake Marion drop to its lowest level ever.
One reader tells us that “in the 1960s and early 1970s it regularly hosted picnics for many thousands of people on weekend days during the summer, typically sponsored by major corporations and unions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, e.g., Northwest Airlines, IBEW, UAW, Honeywell, and Hitchcock Industries. When the last owners retired, they sold the park to the city of Lakeville.”
Antlers Park is still there, but no longer an amusement park. It is described as a playground, and according to pictures on an unofficial Facebook page, it has a sandy beach and a covered picnic table pavilion.
The Arabian Nite Club was originally located at 628 Central Ave. NE in Minneapolis. The first ad found was in 1932.
In March 1935 the Club was sold, and apparently moved to 21 Washington Ave No. in the Gateway (Skid Row).
In January 1948, owner Anna M. Buczak transferred the liquor license to her mother, Rose C. Buczak.
In February 1962 the bar had been demolished in the name of slum clearance. Mrs. Buczak tried to transfer the license to 213 N. First Street but was denied. She was denied a second time, and then Peacock Alley tried to get the license but was denied, allegedly on racial grounds.
This venue was located at 315 So. Fifth Street.
By the Fall of 1934 the building was called the Aragon Ballroom, and remained so until at least New Year’s Eve 1935. The Aragon Ballroom Orchestra was broadcast over WTCN radio.
The Aragon was more of a venue for the small Minneapolis black community, as evidenced by ads for dances in the Minneapolis Spokesman. I will list the ones I found:
The Clover Leaf Club Presents Joe Billo and His Band: 12 Artists
Monday Nite, September 17, 1934
ARAGON BALLROOM (Formerly Acadia)
Come and Dance to One of the Nation’s Greatest Bands
THE BIG DANCE OF THE SEASON!
The Clover Leaf Club Presents Eli Rice and His Cotton Pickers
15 Superb Musicians and Entertainers
Next Monday Night, October 1, 1934 at ARAGON BALLROOM (Formerly Acadia) Everybody Will Be There!
Dance at the ARAGON (Opposite the Court House) Monday Night, June 17, 1935, Featuring The Harlem Play Girls – First Time Girls’ Band to appear in Minneapolis. Their Only and Last Appearance Before Leaving for Tour of the West Coast. Admission 40c Make up a Party!
Coming Monday Night, July 15, 1935 – Carroll Dickerson and His Orchestra, Direct from the Grand Terrace Cafe, Chicago. Also Recently Featured: 14 CBS Radio Artists at the ARAGON BALLROOM, MINNEAPOLIS
For First Time Hear and Dance to the Music of Earl Fraser and His Band at the Beautiful and Spacious ARAGON BALLROOM (formerly Arcadia) – Across from Court House. Monday Night, September 16, 1935. “Everybody Attends Dances at the Aragon” Come out, hear the newest and most sensational band in Northwest
Coming Monday Night, October 7, 1935: Walter Barnes and His Famous Royal Creolians (Chicago’s Favorite Band) ARAGON BALLROOM Biggest Dance of the Season Admission 50c
FITE-BAKER and their HARLEM HI-HATTERS
ORCHESTRA AND REVUE
FLOOR SHOW FEATURING BUDDY SHORT, VELDA SHANNON, CARROLL WATKINS 10 ARTISTS AND ENTERTAINERS
ARAGON BALLROOM Monday Evening, October 28, 1938.
“The Event of the Season” Reese Martin presents
RED PERKINS and his Dixie Ramblers playing for a Dance at the ARAGON BALLROOM, Monday Night, November 25, 1935. Dancing 10 pm to 2 am. Four Thanksgiving Turkeys Given Away Free
BIG NEW YEAR’S EVE DANCE
Featuring Walter Erickson’s Red Hot Band at the Spacious ARAGON BALLROOM, 315 South Fifth Street
The first time in the Twin Cities that the colored people have been able to ssecurie such a lovely ballroom on a holiday. For reservation call Bridgeport 3519.
FAVORS GIVEN AWAY FREE Dancing from 9:30 to 4:30
COURT HOUSE GARAGE
From August 1936 to 1945 the building was used as a public storage garage.
In July 1945 the building was purchased by the Hertz Driv-Ur-Self System for $50,000. Hertz used it for storage and servicing its cars. Hertz intended to construct a second story and connect them with ramps, but permit records do not indicate that this was done, and postwar building material restrictions probably made this plan unworkable. The building was purchased from Mrs. Alice Strass/Straus Landers of St. Paul/Pasadena.
The building was demolished in October 1961.
The Arcade Bar was located at 932 Arcade Street at Sims Avenue in St. Paul. It was two blocks from the Whirlpool plant, and a popular place for workers until the plant shut down at the end of 1984.
It was just a bar, I’m told, but Mark Youngblood comes up with these great ashtrays, so I decided to put this up.
Then comes Henry Feist, who confirmed that it was just a bar. But, writes Henry:
The only times they would have live music was to rid the bar of the motorcycle clubs (who wanted to make it their hangout), by playing music that was not to their liking (which was seldom). I know this because my uncle(s) owned the place from the early ’70s up until about eight years ago.
Mr. Feist also tells us that the place was originally built as the Northwestern Hotel in the 1880s, and guided me to this photo:
In 1942, the proprietor of the Arcade Bar was identified as Hugo Wollney. In July 1950, the owner was Frank C. Graves. In August 1960 to December 1965, the proprietor was identified as Harold Hicks.
Michael Feist was identified as the owner in 1987 in a disciplinary hearing about gambling and being open before 8:00 am (Minneapolis Tribune, July 15, 1988) On July 19, 1988, the Bar received an 11-day suspension for those violations.
This venue at 315 So. Fifth Street started out in 1909 as the Dreamland Dancing Pavilion.
ARCADIA ROLLER SKATING PALACE
In 1914, the building was leased by the Saxe Brothers, theater owners and amusement promoters. They opened the roller skating venue on December 5, 1914. It could accommodate 1,000 skaters, and boasted skates with the latest fiber rollers. Cornelius A. Lane was the manager.
ARCADIA DANCING PALACE
Apparently roller skating wasn’t catching on, and the building reverted back to dancing or a combination of dancing and skating on April 10, 1915. It also hosted many boxing matches, and in fact hosted many of the kinds of events that would later be held in the Minneapolis Auditorium. These included political meetings, receptions, even a poultry show.
And there was dancing! Proof is this report that poor James Kelly was arrested and fined $10 for refusing to stop “shimmying” at the Arcadia Dance Hall. The judge warned him to “keep away from dance halls until you can control yourself.” (Minneapolis Tribune, February 22, 1920)
Oh, and there were pickpockets galore.
In 1922 Conway and his bouncer were taken to court for police brutality by a drunk who was ejected too forcefully.
In 1923 it was becoming clear that Minneapolis needed better facilities for its events. A bond issue was being discussed for a modern auditorium, after using using the Arcadia, the Shubert Theater, the Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Plant, and “the auditorium” proved to be inadequate.
There was a busy schedule here in December 1925:
- Enagma (sic) Club Dance on Tuesday nights
- Lucky Prize on Wednesday nights
- Club dance every Thursday night
- Candy Dance on Friday nights
- Saturday and Sunday follow the crowd to the Arcadia Dance Palace.
Now, I must explain about the information above. It comes from a publication called the American Constitution, which was an anti-Communist newspaper. And why was I reading an anti-Communist newspaper, might be a fair question? The Minnesota Historical Society’s microfilm room has some reels of newspapers they might just have a few copies of, and these are all spliced together into a delightful potpourri of publications that are a hoot to look through. So this came from that. I suppose a Communist could go to Conway’s Arcadia Palace just as much as anyone else as long as they didn’t make a fuss about it…
In 1928 the Manager was William T. Hawks.
See Aragon Ballroom
Archie’s was located at 1022 Excelsior Ave. (now Mainstreet), Hopkins.
The building goes back to 1930, and in October 1937 it was Gluek’s Corner, a place to get Wrigley’s Gum.
Archie was Archie Normandin, and his bar went back to at least 1951. In 1971 you could dance to your old time and new favorites to Chris Kober and His Orchestra. Also Country and Western by the Big River Ramblers.
On November 18, 1977, the Minneapolis Star did a survey of Country bars around town, and included Archie’s. The bar was called a comfortable, relaxing spot with two levels and adequate seating. The Country decor was deemed a bit “contrived.” The dance floor is slightly elevated and gets crowded when the band is playing. Patrons are clean-cut business and factory workers from the area. There was live entertainment every other night.
Archie’s prevailed until at least May 2000.
In January 2001, wantads appeared for staff for a new place called Decoys, which apparently opened in October 2001. Decoy’s offered live music and existed until at least December 2008.
THE WILD BOAR
The Ark Auditorium was located at 3044 First Ave. So. in Minneapolis. It was built by the Ark Lodge of the Masons, opening on December 1, 1908.
The building had three stories, withe the first dedicated to the auditorium, the second to meeting rooms of the Masons, and the third to a private banquet room. Part of the building was leased to the West Side Commercial Club beginning on January 9, 1909.
Many, many meetings, dances, picnics, revivals, and other gatherings were held in the building over the decades. In the days before reliable transportation, local groups had to rely on themselves for entertainment.
In 1924 the Minneapolis Social Club was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, and held a Saturday night dance every week at the Ark Auditorium.
Notices are seen in the Strib until November 12, 1969.
At some point the effects of the Ark Lodge were brought over to St. Louis Park’s Paul Revere Lodge.
The building was demolished in September 1976. A U.S. Post Office was built on the site the following year.
1619 Plymouth Ave. No., opened in November 1957 offering Southern style food and Your Favorite Dinner Music Presented Live. Owned by Timothy Bender and Phillip Archer.
26th and Nicollet, owned by Bill Warner.
The Attic was in Chanhassen, 1972.
The Auditorium Bar had two locations.
1400 3rd Ave. So.
The first Auditorium Bar had been owned by Louis M. Palmersten, son-in-law of Syndicate member Harry Smull.
1376 Nicollet Ave. (Kenesaw Hotel)
In July 1963 Palmersten had his license transferred to the Kenesaw Bar, located at 1376 Nicollet Ave.
Kenesaw Bar: March 1959 to early 1961. A Kid Cann Syndicate site. In 1960 the liquor license was in name of Yiddy Bloom’s sister, Kid Cann’s sister-in-law.
The Auditorium Bar was reopened at the Kenesaw site in December 1963.
Hylander Supper Club: December 1963 (1372)
Auditorium Bar: November 1965 (1372)
The address was last mentioned on September 18, 1967.
The 1372 address was generally used for Dantis Restaurant and Bar. There were three addresses that got mixed up: 1370, 1372, and 1376.
Pinning a construction date down for this building is beyond my capabilities, I’m afraid. The City/County says 1885, although there are newspaper ads for stoves and heaters that go back to 1877. Permit cards seem to indicate that one of perhaps two buildings on this lot burned down before the turn of the last century, while another was replaced in 1909.
- In 1909, John and Sam Friedman secured a 10 year lease on the L.M. Stewart property and “remodeled” it by tearing down the old structure adjoining the one at 424 Hennepin.” But then it says they leased the ground at 424 Hennepin from “Elder Stewart and built thereon a building to suite their own convenience, adaptiable to their special line of business. The new structure is 22 x 80 feet and is two stories high. It has a swell front and is attractive in architectural design.” (Minneapolis Tribune, April 4, 1909) Friedman Bros. was a tailor shop/haberdashery until 1926. John Friedman also ran a real estate business out of the building.
- The Oriental Cafe opened to much fanfare in May 1913, but by June, owner Moy S. James had not paid any bills, was on the run, and his creditors were dismantling the place.
- Minnesota Meat Co: 1931 – 1936
The music venues here were:
- Crombie’s Bar and Lounge
Lindy’s was a “stage bar” that opened on June 11, 1936.
The photo below is from an undated ad – courtesy Anne Cook/Gurr photo collection. It was sent by David Eyre, whose Aunt, aunt Flora Cook/Moore/Egan (1888-1960), worked as a “Psychic Reader [who] gives readings to patrons every afternoon.” Flora’s photo, also from the Anne Cook/Gurr photo collection, is below.
The ad has more!
- Anytime is “Swing Time” at Lindy’s with music for dancing delightfully supplied by Les Martin and his orchestra . . . swing time or waltz time . . . you sway and dream to the contagious rhythms of this syncopated combination.
- After the game – here is where you will find the winners celebrating their victory and the vanquished forgetting their defeat in the merry atmosphere of Lind’s Football Supper Dances Saturday afternoons starting at 5:00 o’clock.
- The World Famous Siamese Twins . . . Daisy and Violet Hilton, whose personal appearance at Lindy’s brought thousands of new visitors to this popular downtown club . . . an example of the famous stage personalities that are featured in Lindy’s floor shows every week.
CROMBIE’S BAR AND LOUNGE
Crombie’s replaced Lindy’s between September 1938 and August 1939. Crombie’s was owned by Benjamin Moses. But Moses apparently died in about July 1943, as the bar was up for sale by Max Moses, Administrator of Estate.
Some time between 1936 and 1939, when it became Crombie’s Bar, Howard “Chief” McElroy had a band there which he believes was the first Dixieland band in town.
Crombie’s was advertised up until at least September 1943.
AUGIE’S THEATER LOUNGE AND BAR
If there is one place that defined Hennepin Avenue, it was Augie’s, owned by Augie Ratner. Let’s take a look at this colorful figure.
- 1902: Samuel “Augie” Ratner was born on March 15 in Minsk, Russia
- 1909: He came to the U.S. at the age of 7 (later amended to age 8).
- The 1910 Census found him in Minneapolis, speaking Yiddish as his primary language. His father was a grocer.
- 1911: He was naturalized.
- By 1917, at age 15, he appeared in the papers as a boxer and was apparently quite active.
- The 1920 Census finds him living with his parents at age 18 with no occupation listed. A 1920 article article described him as a “Brooklyn middleweight” who had been in the Navy.
- The 1930 Census said he was the proprietor of a “Confectionery,” which was code for a speakeasy.
- In October 1933 we find him as the manager of Club Royale, 20 University Ave. SE. He was awarded a license for the club in April 1934.
In 1935 he owned a service station, and indeed there was this ad found from 1935. The 1940 Census describes him as a partner in a gasoline station.
- 1936: But when a gambling house at 1711 Plymouth Ave. No. was robbed by other gamblers, and he was accused of being one of the owners of said gambling house, his response was a resounding “Baloney!” He did, however, find it convenient to pay a visit to Rochester, all the while denying a gambling war. “I sell gas and oil. That’s my business. Anything else is a lot of baloney.” (Minneapolis Star, December 21, 1936)
- An ad for the gas station appeared in the Minneapolis Star Journal in December 1940.
- 1943: Augie’s opened in or before November 1943.
The Republican Register of December 1943 ran an article about the new bar, calling it “one of the city’s most popular fun spots.”
When Augie took over Crombie’s, it was entirely redecorated by Joe Palen. The article concludes “..Ratner employs only veteran concocters of fancy drinks and only the highest quality beverages are dispensed.”
The first performers at Augie’s were Leon Abbey’s Entertaining Boys (his four piece orchestra) and singer Jeanne Bargy, daughter of orchestra leader Roy Bargy. In addition, Dorothy Berry will sing your favorite request.” Another early band was Howard Brown’s Rhythm Kings.
The City Permit card says that the two top floors, that had contained a hotel, were removed in about April 1946.
An undated and unsigned memo (probably from the mid 1940s) says that Elaine Realty Inc. bought the building from United Properties Inc. on October 26, 1946, but suspects that Tommy Banks may have held the deed. (Hennepin County Library Special Collections Clipping File)
In 1955-56 the bar featured Wild Bill Boone.
On Facebook, Augie’s daughter tells us that Augie sold the bar, along with the name, to a friend in 1966. Augie died on August 1, 1979.
Apparently Augie’s is still there, now Augie’s Bourbon Street Cabaret.
The B and L Tavern was located at 156 West 7th Street/St. Peter Street in St. Paul.
It was one of the early taverns that sprung up right after Prohibition ended. The only hit in the Minneapolis newspaper database is on November 2, 1934, in an ad for Calvert Whiskey. The St. Paul newspapers are not online.
But the photo below tells us that in 1937, there was an orchestra every night, and those key words “dine and dance” allow us to add this fine establishment to our list of music venues!
St. Paul – jazz venue. Is this really the B & L?
Information for this page comes from the book Looking Back at White Bear Lake: A Pictoral History of the White Bear Lake Area, by Cynthia E. Vadnais.
This venue was located on the southwest corner of Bald Eagle Avenue and Bald Eagle Boulevard West, in White Bear Lake.
In about 1885, Frederick W. Benson operated the Hotel Benson at the Bald Eagle Lake resort.
BALD EAGLE HOTEL
During the early 1900s, C.E. Smith purchased the resort and changed the name of the building to the Bald Eagle Hotel. The establishment boasted electric lights, running water, sanitary closets, bathhouses, boats, fishing tackle, and bait. They also offered “moving pictures” on-site and a dance hall. For almost four decades, the Smiths ran or leased out the hotel.
During the late 1910s and early 1920s, the Smiths had the Smith’s Bald Eagle Air Dome [?] at the hotel. They advertised that there were “moving pictures, dances and refreshments” with “dancing every day (except Sunday.)” Dances cost 5 cents, for which customers received two dances (per couple). There were also dances that included movies. These had an admission price of 10 cents, which included one dance per person.
In the 1940s, Joe Rogowski took over the hotel, converting it into apartments.
ROGOWSKI TAVERN AND BOATS
He opened Rogowski Tavern and Boats on the premises where tourists and locals could have a drink, rent a boat, or purchase snacks. The automobile had done away with the need for overnight housing for almost anyone coming from the Twin Cities to fish or enjoy other recreation on Bald Eagle Lake.
The building was torn down in the 1970s.
This music venue called the Barn, not to be confused with the Purple Barn, was located on Highway 18 (now 169) and 42nd Ave. North/Rockford Road. This is now a major cloverleaf.
According to the ad below, it opened on October 7, 1957, by Gene and Jerry Schmidt. I was just lucky to run across these ads – there’s no way you can search for a phrase called “The Barn!”
After asking for any information about this Barn, I was contacted by a relative of the Schmidts, Bradley Breitzman, who spoke to one of the six Schmidt siblings. Thoughts of the Barn brought tears to the old man’s eyes – he did not remember seeing these ads! He said that it was an actual barn – the family lived upstairs, and the bar and cafe were downstairs. There was another house on the lot. They still have the cash register! Bradley is looking for photos of this wonderful place, so stay tuned!
32 South 6th Street, upstairs. After hours jazz and gambling hangout.
St. Paul dancehall (barn) owned by WLOL DJ Throck Morton. House band the String Kings.
This site at 313 Oak Street SE near Washington Avenue on the U of M Campus was the site of two cool coffee houses:
- The Bastille
- The Coffee Break
The permit cards say that a house was moved onto this lot in 1905, with many alterations and additions after that. In 1908 it was described as a little cottage, the home of the beleaguered Andrew Stevens, whose wife died in childbirth, leaving him with eight children under the age of eleven.
In 1925, Miss Mai Marie Stevens tried out for the Daily Star Vanities, to be performed at the Seventh Street Theater. Andro and Anna Stevens continued to live here until Anna died in 1939. Andro remarried (it turned out Virginia was his third wife) and when he died in 1944 he left everything to Virginia, to the consternation of his four sons and three daughters. His will was determined to be valid by the court.
In 1930 the building was concurrently the home of Mr. and Mrs. B.A. Skinner. Bertha Skinner died in 1941.
In 1960, Harvey Abrams and Bob Beull rented an old house near Oak and Washington Ave., rebuilt it, and named it the Bastille. Abrams, described by Robert Shelton as a “student radical and folk-song enthusiast,” told Shelton that Bob Dylan, then performing as Bob Dillon, played at the Bastille in the fall and early winter of 1960. (Robert Shelton, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, 2011)
The Coffeebreak, owned by Mel Leslie, opened in March 1961.
A January 1963 ad in the Select Twin Citian describes it as having a “‘Bohemian’” coffee house atmosphere on the first floor of a frame house next to the Campus Theater. “Dusty wooden floors, fish nets, stained glass windows. Authentic Negro blues performed by Dave Rey (sic). Friday and Saturday 9:30 to 1:30 am.”
Entertainment featured local blues artists such as Dave Ray and Tony Glover, and occasionally nationally-known performers like Rev. Gary Davis and Big Joe Williams. Performers received half of the $1 cover charge at the door.
“You could smell the hot cider when you walked in the door, recalled Leslie. It was very dark, with fishnets on the ceiling, a small platform and stained glass wind wind with lights behind them. The Break was a place to play chess, do book work, hang out, for coffee and swap songs and guitar work.”
Alan Slacter remembered:
The Coffee Break was my go-to, more approachable than the Scholar, and served hot apple cider in large stoneware mugs. Danny O’Keefe also played there and would accept requests, including one of my favorite folk songs, “Wanderin’.”
Leslie’s lease expired in 1965. He moved to 1900 Riverside Ave. on the West Bank, but funds were short and he and eventually sold his coffee house to the people who formed the New Riverside Cafe in 1970.
When 313 Oak Street SE was wrecked in July 1965, it had a footprint of 20′ by 50′ by 25′. It was a wood frame building with two stories.
A Red Barn fast food restaurant opened in November 1965. Mentions fall off on September 19, 1979.
Other restaurants replaced the Red Barn since.
In 2011, an apartment complex called the Edge on Oak Street was built where beatniks used to roam. The property has been renumbered 401 Oak St. SE, and belongs to the University of Minnesota.
Although no address was given in this ad for the Beanery from the St. Louis Park Sun, one of my readers says it was a part of Lord Fletcher’s in Spring Park. Thanks, Perry!
The Bel Rae Ballroom was located at 5394 Edgewood Drive NW (Highway 10) in Mounds View (one mile west of the New Brighton Arsenal). It was sometimes described as being located in Spring Lake Park, and sometimes in New Brighton. On top of that, sometimes Mounds View was spelled as one word, and sometimes correctly as two. It’s a wonder anyone found it!
The Bel Rae was built by:
- Elhart J. Ebel. He booked the bands and handled the business end of the ballroom. He died of emphysema in 1988 at the age of 64. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 8, 1988)
- Elhart Ebel’s brother-in-law, Eugene (Bud) Ramacher. Bud was killed in a car accident along with four of his relatives in Wisconsin on August 6, 1990.
- Elhart Ebel’s brother, LaVern Ebel. Sometime before 1970, Elhart and Bud bought out LaVern’s share.
Presumably the name came from Ebel and Ramacher?
In 1971, Elhart Ebel and Bud Ramacher sold the ballroom to Tony Jambor (see below).
The cavernous 18,000 sq. ft. facility offered 3.2 beer, wine, and set-ups; state law prohibited the sale of liquor in dance halls.
According to an article in 1970, Tuesdays had been Teen Nights since the ballroom opened in November 1964. (Minneapolis Star, November 14, 1970) Future star Loni Anderson, a native of Roseville, was a frequent visitor on Teen Nights.
These went by the wayside when the drinking age went down to 18 on June 1, 1973.
Friday was alphabet night – people with last names starting with letters in that night’s ad got in free.
Another 1967 ad just had polka acts.
In 1971, the Bel Rae was sold to Tony Jambor – in his column Dick Youngblood said for $350,000. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune, March 31, 1985)
Tony Jambor had had his own Polka show on WTCN, Channel 11 TV from 1964 to 1968. Called “Polka Jamboree,” the show was sponsored by Lindahl Olds.
Like many other ballrooms, the Bel Rae had “Over 28” nights. The number 28 was chosen so women didn’t have to admit they were over 30! This one was a little late to the game, perhaps because other ballrooms were closing.
A little bit rock ‘n’ roll in May 1974. Floren returned later in 1974 and that time they spelled his name right.
Looks like the ballroom was experimenting with different kinds of music to bring their audience numbers up.
Monkees appeared twice?
1975: Rock acts
1976: Polka Festival, dog show(s), boxing
September 14, 1976: Muddy Waters, Mojo Buford (see ad)
May 12, 1977: Billy “Crash” Craddock (spelled ridiculously wrong), a rockabilly star amidst the polka aficionados.
April 1979: Teen disco every Tuesday, with dance classes
1979: Organized European Tours
1982: Parents Without Partners, Thursdays: Rockin’ Hollywoods: 18 years, Johnny Holm Fun Show, Whitesidewalls
December 16, 1988: Bill Haley’s Comets with Al Rappa on bass.
October 15, 1995: Reunion of performers from the Flame Cafe.
1996: Run by son Butch for last 10 years, but he wanted to become a computer engineer. Nine people died of heart attacks. One man got arrested by the FBI at his own wedding reception. Voting place for all of Mounds View.
June 30, 1996: Last show, Jett Williams
MOUNDS VIEW COMMUNITY CENTER
The building was sold to the city on June 30, 1996, and became the Mounds View Community Center, run by the YMCA.
FUN FACEBOOK FACTS
- There is a senior housing complex on County Highway 10 just west of the Mermaid called Bel Rae and I believe the old sign from the Bel Rae has been recycled and is being used on the front of the building!
- When they built the Moundsview Community Center on the site, they kept the dance floor.
- “Quite the In Place to go for a while. Get ready to Rumble in the parking lot! I wonder why we made it this far in one piece!”
Sixth and Hennepin
The Belmont Club (originally the Bel-Mont) was located at 615 University Ave. (at Dale Street), in St. Paul.
The ad below indicates that 615 University was the home of a White Castle in 1933!
THE SILVER STRIPE
In December 1940, a fire burned down a one-story brick building that housed the Silver Stripe Bar and Restaurant.
One article says that the Bel-Mont was named for the first two owners, Henry Belisle (a relative) and Earl Montpetit.
Brothers Earl and Walter Montpetit bought the club in 1950.
Earl lost the liquor license because of a Federal conviction in 1959.
New management leased the bar from the Montpetit’s sisters. (Minneapolis Star, November 16, 1961)
THE BELMONT SUPPER CLUB
It reopened as the Belmont Supper Club in about 1962. In January 1963 it closed for lack of payment of rent.
In February 1963 the license was again transferred, to Clayton Montpetit, yet another sibling of Earl. In return he had to pay back rent, pay for the transfer of the license, and bar Earl and Walter from hanging out there. (Minneapolis Star, February 15, 1963)
In February 1964, a group called the Beetles (formerly the Tornadoes) started a stint at the Belmont, reported Will Jones in the Tribune. Jones covered this phenomenon extensively, observing that the place was packed, even with a $2 cover charge, and noting that the boys did a polka set.
GIRLS IN CAGES
In 1966 the bar featured Og-Og… I mean Go-Go Girls in cages, like on “Shindig.”
An article from December 1967 describes the bar as the Clayton Club, formerly the Belmont Club. (Minneapolis Star, December 27, 1967) But that didn’t hold, since ads for the Belmont appear in January 1968.
In June 1969 the club started a new policy, featuring some of the biggest bands in town.
On January 10, 1973, a janitor at the club was tied up and beaten in the basement of the club. A week later he was found dead in the laundry room of his apartment building. (Minneapolis Tribune, January 19, 1973)
In February 1973 there was an ad saying that the Belmont was Back in Action; begs the question as to whether the club had closed for a while.
In March 1973 classifieds advertised for go-go dancers.
THEY CALL IT THE STREAK
In keeping with the biggest fad of 1974, “Streaking” was advertised at the Belmont, although it was probably an excuse to introduce nude women into the mix.
By November 1974 the place appeared to be less participatory and more observatory…
GIRLS IN CAGES II
In January 1979 the manager was George Montpetit. Nude women danced in glass-enclosed cages to get around the city’s ordinance against nude dancing in bars.
In 1984 Walter Montpetit sold the building to Maurice Fung for $350,000.
In February 1988, Walter Montpetit was arrested in a sting operation. He had “owned the Belmont Club for years.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 13, 1988)
On February 8, 1988, David Fan, the manager of the club, was charged with hiring a 13-year-old nude dancer. The girl was a runaway from Menomonie, Wisconsin, and was arrested that night.
After an investigation, the St. Paul City Council voted to revoke the club’s liquor license. Fan was also charged with a felony for hiring a minor for a sexual performance and went to trial in Ramsey County. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in the Workhouse and five years probation.
On top of everything else, on November 28, 1988, the bar was raided by Federal agents as a result of a three-year investigation into irregularities into the reporting of wages of dancers by Fan’s subsidiary, Dancing Angels, Inc.
The last dance at the Belmont was November 30, 1988, as part of an agreement with the City that Fan would sell the Belmont and his share of the 7th Street Trolley, another nude dancing place in St. Paul.
In April 1989, the City of St. Paul offered to buy the building for $315,000 and turn it into a police station.
In 1989, Montpetit sued David Fan, the manager of the club, for $260,000 for nonpayment of the mortgage since July 1988.
BLUE CLOTHING REQUIRED
After spending $675,000 to purchase and renovate the property, it became a police precinct headquarters on August 31, 1990.
Bibeau’s Tavern was located at 624 Wabasha Street in St. Paul.
This 3.2 beer tavern comes to our attention from a picture posted on Facebook by Kimberley Lambert in 2022. It is a photo of her Great Aunt, Eva Cates, standing in front of the building, which clearly has those magic words “Dine – Dance” on the windows.
Because the venue was in St. Paul and those newspapers are not online, there is not much to know about it. And unfortunately, as usual, what there is to know comes from crime reports.
The first was in 1937, when a robber threw bricks through the window, knocking one employee unconscious. The villain then helped himself to $300, the day’s receipts, while three others in the place, including Bibeau, had to lay on the floor. The headline? “‘Brick’ Bandit Cows 4 in Raid.” (Minneapolis Star, November 15, 1937)
In 1939, the tavern was raided by police and 11 people were arrested in a so-called “anti-Fagin” drive. This referred to underage kids who were taught to be criminals by older ex-cons on the streets, as in the Fagin character in the book Oliver Twist. Arrests were made for gambling, selling liquor without a license, vagrancy, and vice. (Minneapolis Star, February 13, 1939)
The location of the tavern is lost underneath Interstate 94.
JAMES JOSEPH BIBEAU
James Bibeau was born on September 1, 1901. In 1930 he lived with his wife Mabel in White Bear Lake and worked as a driver for a laundry company. The tavern may have started up soon after Prohibition ended in April 1933.
The 1939 raid most likely spelled the end to Mr. Bibeau’s 3.2 beer license and explains why he was back to driving for the laundry company in 1940. In 1942 he completed his World War II registration card, indicating he worked for the Model Laundry Company. He was 40 years old, and only 5 ft. 3 1/2 inches tall, so he wasn’t a good candidate for the military. He and Mabel’s children were Russell, Willard, Richard, and Dolores. James Bibeau died on January 10, 1966.
More to come on this!
The building at 1229 So. 5th Street in Minneapolis housed various music venues, including:
- Town Hall Cafe
- Peggy’s Bar-B-Que
- Big Al’s Jazz Club
In an article by Allan Holbert from the Minneapolis Tribune (October 6, 1968), we find that that the building, just feet from the Milwaukee Road the railroad tracks, was originally a “hotel and restaurant catering mostly to railroad men.”
TOWN HALL CAFE
The Town Hall Cafe opened at this address in the summer of 1937. Entertainers in August 1937: Arthur Bell (Twin Cities), and Iola (New York). In October 1937 the new manager was Hobart T. Mitchell. In November 1937 it was redecorated in white and maroon with red tapestry and oil paintings.
“For Food That Is Out of This World.” In 1948 the proprietor was Neil Berman. The undated Tribune article said that Peggy’s had “a cigarette machine that dispensed booze by the pint instead of tobacco.”
Again quoting Holbert, “For a year or so, in the late ’50s, it was a fag joint.”
At some point in about 1956 – ’57 it was Big Daddy’s jazz venue.
In 1961 it became Big Al’s. Did someone say that Big Al was a chicken sexer? Big Al was Alan Robert Cohen, and he was bigger than the picture on the building, says his son!
In 1964 there were jazz groups upstairs and downstairs. To get upstairs patrons had to climb a rickety fire escape. In 1964 they also instituted “Blue Monday” jam sessions during the day on Mondays.
In 1967 it was owned by Lloyd Beck and the Dave Rooney Trio. The 1967 ads say “Where it’s Always Swingin.'”
The building was decorated with cartoons.
Holbert noted that the “smoky, second-floor piano lounge” was the haven of “married men with their girlfriends and no one said anything. It was a joint where black and white people mixed on the stage as well as at the little white tables and there were never any fights or problems. The police never had to hang around. There would be a hooker there every now and then, but she would usually be there with her pimp and they were there to enjoy the jazz, not to hustle. It was the kind of a place that tourists would have liked, but they didn’t know about it because it was off the avenue.”
I’m sorry, I don’t know where these photos came from, but they are remarkable!
In 1959, Big Al and partners became owners of the Gay ’90s and the Happy Hour in Downtown Minneapolis.
In about 1968 the building was demolished to make way for 35W.
I saw ads for this place from December 1932 to 1937, and just loved them! Who would start a bar before Prohibition was over? An optimist, I guess. And name it the Big House? (Did the waiters wear stripes?) The answer is a guy named Frank Potvin, whose name was associated with a big moonshine seizure in 1920 but got a liquor license anyway.
The address was 1329 So. 3rd Street, which, as far as I can make out, is where 35W meets Washington Ave. Maybe he had a big house.
Big Island Park operated from 1906 to 1911. This 65-acre park was situated on the heavily wooded Big Island on Lake Minnetonka.
It was purchased in 1905 and operated by the Minneapolis and Suburban Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. (TCRT). Park-goers would take the new electric streetcar, which ran just south of St. Louis Park on 44th Street, to the Excelsior Dock, where passengers could take one of nine streetcar boats (named Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnetonka, Como, Minnehaha, White Bear, Hopkins, Harriet and Stillwater) to the Park. The official opening was on August 5, 1906. The boats operated until 1926.
Patrons were met with such amusements as the “Happy Hooligan Slide,” a “Figure-8 Toboggan,” and a miniature train. The Park featured a large music casino, a large roller coaster, the Old Mill, the Scenic Ride to Yellowstone, and a carousel. The buildings has a Spanish mission theme. A 200 ft. tower dominated the park.
The price was only 25 cents, including the streetcar ride, and it became clear that it was not a profitable operation, especially after the TCRT also bought the Tonka Bay Hotel. Both the Park and the Hotel closed at the end of the 1911 season. After sitting abandoned for a few years, the Park was disassembled in 1918, its iron going to scrap iron for the WWI War effort. Some remaining buildings, including a mess hall, became part of a Veteran’s Camp starting in the early 1920s.
The streetcar boats were discontinued in July 1926. In 1925, Excelsior Amusement Park was built at the site of the waiting station for the streetcar boats. Streetcar boats were revived in 1996.
U of M Campus
The Bijou Theater was located at 20 Washington Ave. No.
It was originally called the People’s Theater, designed by architect Harry G. Carter. It opened on October 31, 1887, and was owned by Kohn and Middleton.
In July 1889 the People’s was taken over by Jacob Litt, who renamed it the Bijou Opera House.
The theater burned to the ground in December 28, 1890, when a gas jet behind the scenes got too close.
A second, slightly larger Bijou Opera House was built on the same site in 1891, again to the plans of architect Harry G. Carter. In the meantime, Bijou attractions were housed at the Lyceum. The Bijou had started out strong presenting melodrama, but that had died out, so it adapted to movies.
A stock company in later years brought in an “uptown crowd” for one season while it was temporarily called the Bainbridge.
The interior of the Bijou Theatre was remodeled by architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan in 1927 and again around 1931-1933.
The Bijou Theatre was still open in August 1959, and it closed soon after. It was demolished in 1960.
Sources: Edgar, cinematreasures.org
County Road 15 (4000 Shoreline Drive) in Spring Lake Park. Opened May 1966 (ad below from Minnetonka Record). 1967: “Sing-along and dance-along to the Bruce Leland Trio.” Still there in 1971.
All we know about this place is that it was 1-1/2 miles east of Excelsior Village on Excelsior Blvd.
VINE HILL CAFE
The name suggests that this was at the intersection of Excelsior Blvd. and Vine Hill Road. This was in the 1920s, before Highway 7 was built.
In about May 1926, William L. Millington of Minneapolis bought the Vine Hill Cafe. Bill had previously been in real estate. In October 1926 he added a Benzo gas station.
This was possibly a “chicken shack” so prevalent during Prohibition; an excuse for a set-up place? Local resident Lee Blaske sheds a little light:
Lee also provides these clues:
I had the feeling that this is the building at 19215 Highway 7 in Shorewood. Hennepin County dates it at 1966, but it has tin ceilings and old wood floors. Lee Blaske set me straight on that:
Bill’s Place was a tavern located at 5410 Wayzata Blvd in Golden Valley. It was at Turner’s Crossroad, one mile west of the Minneapolis border.
It was once Pete Faber’s from at least December 1937.
It opened as Bill’s Place on August 3, 1938. It offered “Entertainment, dancing, and foods.” In September 1938 it advertised for a 3 piece union orchestra.
Bill was William J. Schindler, who went on to own the Boulevard. A relative describes him as a real estate investor who moved around a lot.
In 1939, an ad promised Dancing and An Enjoyable Time. Nice menu: Bar-B-Q-Ribs, Chow Mein, Home Made Chili, Hot Tamales, and Glueks on Draft!
In October 1940, the Tribune noted that police switchboard operator John Barber lead the orchestra at Bill’s Place “on Superior Blvd.” – the old name of Wayzata Blvd.
Bill’s Place lasted until at least January 1, 1942.
Bill’s Roller Rink was somewhere in Anoka.
The photo below is from the annals of Facebook. How often did musicians fall off their tiny stages?
1301 Washington Ave. No. at Plymouth. Country bar in 1973-74, with house band Freddie Haas and his Golden Nuggets.
Bimbo’s was located at 243 Cedar Ave., on the West Bank, Minneapolis. Tracing the history of a building where several addresses are involved is difficult, but I’ll give it a try.
SOUTH SIDE HOTEL
According to the permit card, three frame buildings were built in this location starting in 1901, but were demolished in March 1910. One of those demolished dwellings appears to be the South Side Hotel and an attached cafe, which continued in the building that replaced the three until about 1915.
This venerable old brick building was built in 1910 as a store and rooming house. 239-245 Cedar was the home of the Bolmgren Bros. Furniture Company. In October 1934, a tube of teargas in the vault foiled a burglary attempt, but the persistent yeggs, as they were called, came back with gas masks and finished the deed. The next month the company put their upscale inventory up for final sale, remodeled, and in March 1935 reopened as a “Wage Earners” Furniture Bargain Mart.” In 1938 the store was renamed Nordtvedt Bolmgren for its two partners. The last ad was in June 1951, and the building was listed for rent the next month.
After being advertised for sale for a long time, the building was used by Underwriters Salvage Company for auctions from 1955 to 1964.
239 CEDAR FIRE
Although the building was referred to as 239-245 or 239-243 Cedar, there were apparently separate buildings involved. On March 18, 1959, fire broke through the ceiling of the two-story building at 239-41 Cedar. This building housed the Club House Bar on the ground floor and 17 single room occupancy apartments above. Four died and eleven people suffered from smoke inhalation – they were mostly elderly. That building was demolished. Next to it was a vacant lot where another hotel had burned eight years earlier, killing four people.
BIMBO’S NOW OPEN
Bimbo’s Pizza Emporium and Ole Time Saloon opened in December 1966 as a beer and pizza place with a gaslight-era decor, according to Will Jones. Doc Evans opened the place with his banjo, and the management was clearly looking for and older crowd by offering sing-a-longs.
Subsequent ads continued the sing-a-long trend, “In the Big Band Tradition,” and the banjo stylings of Marv Ludwig.
Well, Marv wasn’t bringing in the kids in 1967, and the music quickly turned to rock., making the switch that February.
Old time movies were shown on Monday nights. A special section was available (no beer) for teens to dance.
Apparently the name had changed, too. The ad below calls it Bimbo’s Rock Emporium.
FIRE DOWNS BIMBO’S
On April 15, 1968, there was a three-alarm fire that started in a trash can in an employee bathroom in the basement. It burned through to the first floor in two places and caused $15,000 in damage. There was an arson investigation, but no result was found in the paper. (Minneapolis Star, April 15, 1968)
The club never recovered, and it sat boarded up for a year. In his music column, Allen Holbert identified the owner as Ted Vuich, age 28, who owned six other clubs in college towns across the country. (Minneapolis Tribune, June 2, 1968)
By March 1969, the property was identified as belonging to the Cedar-Riverside Associates, Inc., guided by Gloria Segal. A deal was struck to sell it to Theater in the Round, which had lost its lease. (Minneapolis Tribune, March 28, 1969)
The Black Angus was located at 1029 Marquette Ave. in Minneapolis.
The restaurant was established in 1962 by Harold “Butch” Brambilla and Nate Shapiro to replace the Nelson Cafe and Bar and the Lipstick Lounge. (Minneapolis Tribune, August 8, 1982)
It had a piano bar that became a disco before its time.
Will Jones, entertainment columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune, is hilarious. In May 1963 he told a long story about how the Musicians’ Union was giving clubs a hard time, and in response many were pulling their live music and bringing in:
that Parisiann phenomenon, the all-record night club. There’s already a modified version of it in the Lipstick Lounge at the rear of the Black Angus restaurant. After pianist Joe DeMarsh was given his notice in the middle of the hassle with the musicians, the Lipstick Lounge took out its piano and installed a hi-fi record player in the piano bar, with a girl disc jockey behind it..
The girl in charge of records is Kay Clark Nygaard, who for disc-jockey purposes is being billed as K.C. Nygaard. The curvy Mrs. Nygaard is a bit of a kook with a big toothy smile and a pair of Ben Franklin glasses that tend to slide down her nose. She was three hours late for work on her opening night because she had trouble selecting just the right dress… The requests ran to Brubeck and Jamal and Kenton the night I visited the Lounge. Sometimes Mrs. Nygaard vocalized along with a record, and once she stood on the bar and twisted, but mostly she just sat smiling and wiggling and making sly little comments to the customers..
Sue Earle performed nightly in 1969. Thanks to whoever posted these images on Facebook!
The Black Angus closed on August 7, 1982. When it closed, the Minneapolis Tribune gave the Manager’s name as Ron Dougherty, and the owner as Bob Short.
The Black Cat was a legendary night club located on the corner of Bloomington Road and Cedar Ave. in Bloomington. Those roads became Old Shakopee Road and Old Cedar Ave., and its address became 9139 Cedar.
Stan Danielson explains that this was originally a house on the SW corner of the intersection for some years before Jeremiah Scott bought it in the early 1900s and moved it to the NE corner. He called this intersection, “Long Meadow.”
The photo below shows a precursor to the Black Cat – Scott’s Long Meadow, where you could get Minnehaha Pale. This near beer was made by the Golden Grain Juice Company, and was a malt beverage with no more than 0.5 percent of alcohol. The photo has been tentatively dated to 1915-1916, which was before Prohibition, but Bloomington may have been dry at the time.
To the left of the building in the photo above was Scott Ford, a car dealership that dates back to the early 1900s. According to Greg Rohlen, that building still stands on the east side of Cedar at 91stStreet.
Based on the photo above, Kirk Brust created the painting below in the late 1990s. He sold the painting, but kept a photo of it to share on Facebook, and has given me permission to post it here. Thanks, Kirk!
THE BLACK CAT
If anything, the owners were good at publicity! I have a LOT of ads to post here, so bear with me.
Here is what appears to be the second ad in the Minneapolis newspapers. It promised paved roads from town, room for 250 cars, the music of George Barton and his “peppy” Chat Noir (French for Black Cat) Orchestra.
Fine food was prepared by Adolph Berger, a man who was obviously German but who had been cheffing here in Minnesota safely since 1913, before World War I. 1929 was still during Prohibition, but out in the sticks of rural Bloomington, all bets were probably off, and that Near Beer was no doubt a thing of the past.
The Black Cat looks like he’s dancing and having a good time!
Music by Bill Moore and his Nine Dixie Playmates. Moore was extremely popular in the 1920s and ’30s, with an ever-changing lineup of musicians. The cat looks a little more threatening – or threatened.
By November 1929, radio station WDGY was broadcasting the Black Cat Club Orchestra from 6 to 6:45 pm. Another program was the “Whoopie!” Club.
In 1930, WCCO Radio did a broadcast that simulated a visit to the Chat Noire, a Paris nightclub that dates back to 1881. French songs would be sung at the Black Cat, if I’m reading this right, over a series of programs. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 16, 1930)
At approximately June 2, 1930, the name of the establishment became Cedar Crest. The house band continued to be broadcast over WDGY as the Cedar Crest Orchestra. The manager was J.B. Waite.
On August 23, 1930, Waite was arrested in a raid that found 15 couples still dancing after the midnight curfew. No dancing on Sunday! (Minneapolis Star, August 25, 1930) Waite was convicted and fined $25, but argued that his was a night club and not a public dance hall, and would appeal.
On June 11, 1932, Art Bowee, identified as the operator of the Cedar Crest, was arrested for allowing dancing after midnight on a Saturday night. He plead not guilty. (Minneapolis Star, June 15, 1932) On August 25, the Tribune identified said proprietor as Arthur Bubee, and said that the $100 fine levied upon him for allowing five couples to dance after midnight had been dismissed upon appeal, because the couples had not paid anything to dance.
On September 24, 1933, the Cedar Crest was advertised for sale. It also had “five modern living-rooms on second floor.”
The last ad found for the Cedar Crest was December 30, 1933.
At the time the Black Cat was established at the turn of the 20th Century, there were plenty of open spaces in the nascent Bloomington, enough for a small private flying field at 87th and Cedar. Pilots and their passengers would take advantage of the remoteness of the place and indulge in activities that were more closely watched in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Instead of Near Beer, patrons could get 3.2 beer before Prohibition was over in 1933. If they wanted something stronger, that could be had under the table.
In a Sun Newspaper article by Harvey T. Rockwood that was published in anticipation of the building’s demolition, material from the book Minnesota Aviation History 1905-1945 by Noel Allard was quoted. I’ll repeat it here.
The area around Cedar airport was generally planted in grain crops except for the runways. A heavily wooded area bordered the field to the north, along Cedar Avenue. Not far from the southern end of the airport, on the northeast corner of the Road, was another of the legendary watering holes favored by local flyers, the Black Cat Club. Stories of its parties and girls are prevalent among the nostalgia set.
If the men wanted someone of the weaker sex, that could be had upstairs on the second floor. Lots of rumors flew about the Black Cat being a house of prostitution, although no one seems to be willing to admit to experiencing it first hand.
Some comments on Facebook:
- My mom and dad went there in the 1930s and ’40s…they said it was way out in the country then. Mom always said it was the “Dirty Pussy” and someday I will tell you why.
- In the early 1960s my parents and other neighbors called it the “Dirty Kitty!”
ABOUT THE CAT
Benjamin Pahl shared this black cat story on Facebook:
My grandma and grandpa owned a farm on 90th and Cedar. Their names were Nicholas and Mary Pahl. It was during the War years and I was just a little boy. My dad was in the service but at home at the time. He built a basement house on grandma’s farm on 90th St. It had block walls in the ground and it was capped with tarpaper on top. The house was to be finished at a later date.
I went to the Black Cat with my dad and they had a black panther chained to a pole in the bar. I was told to steer clear of the cat as it was dangerous. One night we had just gotten into bed and we heard a four-legged animal running around on top of our roof . The neighbors passed the word that the black cat was on the loose so we kind of knew what was on the roof. My dad went up to see what it was, and sure enough, it turned out to be the Panther. He called the constable, who was our cousin, Virgil Pahl. Virgil told us to stay in the house, as he was on the way. They found the cat at the old Cedar Airport next to my grandma’s house. A short time later we heard a gunshot. They had to shoot the cat. True story.
From at least 1934 to 1941, Alwin and Rose Spencer were the owners of the Black Cat.
Now the ad above is intriguing in a few ways. First, it’s the Grand Opening – perhaps it should be the Grand Re-Opening, since it lost its wonderful name from 1930 to 1933. This is no doubt when the Spencers bought and re-opened the Club. We do know that they owned it by September 16, 1934, from a mention in a column (“Peg About College” in the Minneapolis Tribune). That paragraph calls the “ultra attractive” Chat Noire room “the Twin Cities most beautiful and exclusive suburban restaurant.”
Then there’s the music: “Hot, Peppy, Colored Orchestra,” and “Colored Singing Waiters.” Bill Moore’s many-iterated orchestras were “colored,” that’s for sure.
The last thing is that they provided a sketch of the place, which looks very much like a 1939 photo that Rick Spencer, Al and Rose’s grandson, posted on Facebook. I blew up the 1934 sketch, and I’ll follow it with Rick’s picture.
A 1936 Valentine’s Day idea floated in the Minneapolis paper was a “Pay Party” – a new New York way of saying Dutch Treat. “Make yours an old time sleigh ride party at The Black Cat Club – $1.00 per person includes sleigh, food and dancing.
These sleigh rides were very popular, especially with fraternities and sororities.
CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP
On April 6, 1941, we find this ad in the Classifieds:
NITE CLUB – Colonial bldg & equipment. All mod liv quarters. Owner has other interest. Take city property in trade. The Black Cat Club, 92nd & Cedar.
An item in the Minneapolis paper dated April 10, 1943, says that Al, formerly with the Black Cat and Cobblecrest Gardens, was now the manager of Jerry Gerow’s President cafe “out across from the ball park. Al’s meeting meat rationing with a trick method of preparing jumbo frog legs. They’re the talk of the section already.”
Another name change came and went – I can only pin it down to between December 1945 and December 1946. This is the only ad found. The 1946 date comes from a classified about a lost watch.
AND THE CAT COMES BACK
As is often the case, we learn things from crime reports. In this case, we know that the place was back to the Black Cat by January 1, 1951, when two Minneapolis men entered the Black Cat with the stated intent of selling flowers. I instead they accidentally sold a fifth of whisky to an undercover off-duty constable. Trouble ensued.
In May 1954, Otto G. Arnold, President of the Sanitary Sausage Company, was in trouble with the IRS for unpaid taxes. Some of those taxes had to do with unreported dividends from the Black Cat Club, where he claimed “bad debt” that the IRS contended was unsubstantiated. Shortly afterwards, in June 1954, the owner was trying to rent out the club and the kitchen.
One of the last mentions of the Black Cat in the newspaper is a tragic one. On December 11, 1959, 66-year-old Raymond Love of Clarkfield, Minnesota, choked to death on a piece of steak. Love had been at a wrestling match in Minneapolis with his son-in-law, and stopped at the Black Cat for a bite on the way home.
And the last mention found in a search of the Strib is a Lion’s Club meeting held on April 20, 1960.
NICHOLS SUPPER CLUB
A search for the address of the Black Cat brings up the Nichols Supper Club, which first advertised for a cook on December 28, 1961. Those ads continued until January 2, 1962.
THE CAT IS BACK
But wait! Some 1961 State law required bars to apply for liquor licenses, and the Black Cat applied for one in May 1963. Apparently they were successful, because they were advertising for waitresses a week later. Was it all over on March 1, 1964? Methinks the poor old cat, now 35 years old (how old is that in cat years?) was finally gone.
December 1966 to September 1975. Also Bill’s Counters and Floors
The last use of the building was a series of antique shops. Some of the names were:
- Antique Shop: March 1, 1984
- Antiques in Bloomington: March 1985
- Antiques/Gifts: December 1985
- Sherry’s Old Stuff (aka SOS): June 1989
- Black Cat Antiques: 1979 – 1981, Jan Marie Foster
- SOS: April 1997
This is perhaps our last look at the building. By this time it would have been empty.
THE CAT IS GONE
It appears that the building was vacated in about 2000, and demolished in 2002. In its place at the busy intersection is a turn lane from Old Shakopee Road onto Old Cedar Ave. – where the white car is below.
The Black Sheep Club, 901 Marquette, was supposed to be one of a chain of members-only “Key Clubs” that required patrons to pay a sometimes hefty fee for the privilege of admission. In February 1963 the club held a series of Open Houses, advertising their three rooms:
- The Speakeasy Room had a Roaring ’20s theme with a Dixieland combo and flapper girls
- The Theodora Room was decorated in crystal and velvet and featured Toby Prin at the piano and songs by Lola
- The Oriental Room featured Japanese hostesses singing and dancing traditional songs. In June 1963 belly dancers replaced the demure Japanese girls.
In June 1963 Will Jones wrote about this place as if it had been there awhile. The Four Lads were performing on June 5.
An ad in the July 1963 Select Twin Citian is pretty cute so please bear with me. It’s hand written and all typos are intact here:
Dear Mom & Especially Dad,
Today I sketched a belly dancer … in a fabulous oriental room where everyone sits around on the floor, on pillows. There’s a plush carpet on the stairway that goes from the oriental room to the dining room. Right at the top of the stairs there’s a great chandelier that I understand is worth about $5,000.00, WOW!
In the main dining I met a nice old guy who plays a mean “Ricky-tic” piano. His piano sits in front of a big original painting of a nude (which I didn’t sketch for your benifit!) (mercy!)
The rest of my evening was spent in a nifty room called the “Speak easy” where total choas reigns after nine P.M. Before I forget they’ve got some real top entertainment coming up … Margaret Whiting … Vaughn Monroe and the Cordettes. If you need a membership call Mr. “Bill” Arndt.
I’ve got to run now as I’m going over there for lunch. Great Food at Noon! Love, Bob P.S. send money.
The project was undercapitalized, and two employees sued for back pay and took the furniture, which ended that.
Subsequent clubs at the location were:
- The Ram’s Club
- Shaw’s Cove – in March 1968, “Introduces a new concept in Night Club Entertaining,” featuring 6-man comedy/musical group called the Second Edition.
- Bradford’s opened in December 1968 by Bernie Beaumont and lasted until at least 1974. The Bradfords was a group from Bradford, England.
- Zachariah’s was a country place that featured the Sky Blue Water Boys. It opened in October 1975.
The Black Swan Pub was located in the Southdale Bowl, at 3401 W. 69th Street in Edina. The location is now a condo built in 2008.
Entries for the Black Swan appear in October 1971, drop off, then pick up from 1977 to 1990.
A predecessor may have been the Walnut Grill in 1964.
4712 – 42nd Ave. No. in Robbinsdale. Whaddaya think? “Beer, Beverages, and Bait” in 1951. Maybe it had a juke box, who knows?
94th and Lyndale Avenue So.
This page is about two venues that were located at 369 Cedar Ave. in St. Paul:
- The Take 5 Jazz club
- The Blue Chip
TAKE 5 JAZZ
An ad for Take 5 Jazz appears in July 1972.
It’s difficult to know how long it lasted, because the name of the place is in an unsearchable font.
THE BLUE CHIP
Ron Mattox took over the Take 5 and turned it into the Blue Chip.
Will Jones tells us that the Blue Chip had a Wall Street theme:
Fashioned out of the not-so-old Take Five jazz club, it’s nestled in the parking complex in the shadow of the Osborne Building at 369 Cedar Ave. So. About all owner Ron Maddox did to remodel the place was change some lighting and install a huge electronic board that flashes the New York Stock Exchange quotations, as in a brokerage house. After the market closes, the board continues to flash the closing numbers and continues as a kind of light show through the evening. Cocktail doilies are $100 bills featuring a picture of Maddox, and Wall Street Journal reprints cover the menus and uniforms of bartenders and waitresses. (Minneapolis Tribune, August 20, 1973)
John Gehrke of the Minneapolis Tribune wrote:
While businessmen aren’t overwhelming the Blue Chip, many go there for entertainment. You’ll also see an occasional judge or legislator, and the city council convened there one recent afternoon for undisclosed purposes. (December 3, 1973)
Facebook and Other Facts:
- The Blue Chip had “Large Lung” contests in about 1973.
- Maddox also installed a Dow Jones News Service teletype machine.
- The waitresses and bartenders wore shirts printed with reproductions of pages from the Wall Street Journal.
- In August 1975, an ad appeared, selling chairs from the Blue Chip.
- Norm Stratton was the lead singer of the house band Second Coming. The band hit it big and moved on to Vegas.
- Members of the Minnesota Fighting Saints hockey team hung out there.
On April 26, 1978, owner Ron Maddox was elected to the St. Paul City Council. A brou-ha-ha erupted in July 1978 when people objected to a bar owner voting on liquor license matters. At the time, Maddox said he was in the process of selling the Blue Chip. Indeed, wantads looking for a buyer begin to appear on December 2, 1976. An article in the Tribune dated July 14, 1978, described Maddox as a former St. Paul bar owner, so he must have sold the Blue Chip very shortly before that date.
Ron Maddox was a huge booster of his adopted City of St. Paul. He apparently owned a hardware store (Ron Maddox Highland Repair) and operated an insurance business, but his real profession was bar owner, having stakes in seven of them throughout his lifetime, according to his obituary. Some highlights are below (more to come):
March 1, 1970 – January 1972: Denny’s Loft
Blue Chip: August 1973 to July 1978
Before December 1973: Plucked Raven
Before December 1973 to February 1976: Green Lantern – on 369 Cedar with the Blue Chip
October 20, 1974 – April 1976: Fringe Benefit Bar, located at 312 Central Ave. NE in Minneapolis (partial ownership)
In 1982, Maddox heard about the music festival idea while in Chicago, and organized the Taste of Minnesota for first time.
Maddox died from complications of strokes on February 19, 2010.
1105 – 26th Ave. No. Not sure if this had any entertainment, but here’s a story in case it did. In March 1968 a bomb was thrown into the entryway, blowing an 11-inch hole in the concrete of the building’s basement, blowing the door off its hinges, and breaking its front windows. Eight idiots were arrested and charged, including three women; they told police that they planned to form a local chapter of Hell’s Angels. The bombing followed an earlier brawl at the bar, and co-owner Erling G. Nelson and two young men injured in the fight reported they had received threatening phone calls.
Not the infamous gang hangout in Garrison, Minnesota, this Blue Goose Inn was located at 2754 W. 7th Street in St. Paul, according to an item dated April 10, 1929, advertising for a piano player.
THE GOLDEN TAVERN
In February 1933, the Blue Goose Inn became the Golden Tavern.
The last mention of the Golden Tavern in the Minneapolis papers was on October 17, 1935.
6810 Lake Drive, Circle Pines, 1974.
1355 University Ave. W. in St. Paul was the site of several music venues over the years. Many thanks to Jeff Neuberger for his research on this location!
THE PEACOCK INN
Opened in October 1926, the Peacock Inn offered elegant dining and dancing to live music by Don Yerkey and his orchestra. It also offered alcohol, and on December 25, 1928, the Peacock Inn was raided by Prohibition agents and a Federal judge ordered the restaurant padlocked.
After remodeling, the Peacock Inn reopened in 1929 as the Deauville Chateau. It was decorated to resemble the famous French seaside resort. Napoleon de Roma was the owner. He had formerly managed the Casino Room at the Saint Paul Hotel. The Deauville Chateau offered French cuisine and live music to dance to. Bill Santos and his Tropical Melody Orchestra played tango music. They also had Marshall Stanchfield and his Orchestra with Rita Gould as vocalist. A Filet Mignon steak dinner could be had for 75 cents and mixed drinks for a quarter.
By 1937 Napoleon de Roma had changed the name of the restaurant to Napoleon’s and continued to offer fine cuisine to the citizens of St. Paul. De Roma ran the restaurant until his death in 1949 and then his son Herbert Napoleon de Roma took over.
Napoleon’s continued to be a St. Paul institution for power brokers, society parties and business lunches.
In 1963 De Roma sold Napoleon’s to Ralph Kriesel, who owned the nearby Midway Chevrolet. Kriesel leased the restaurant to Vernon Warling, who after a few months remodeling reopened it as the Blue Horse restaurant. Vernon brought in his brother Cliff to run the place, and Cliff was referred to in press reports as the owner.
The Blue Horse was primarily a restaurant, often patronized by politicians and known for lavish dishes such as:
- Steak tartare
- Steak Diane
- Bananas Foster
- Cherries Jubilee
Family member Tom Warling tells us that the iconic Blue Horse sculpture was taken from a painting by Franz Marc. Club owner Leo Gadbois reportedly had or has one of them at one of his properties.
Although it was not necessarily a music venue, it did have a piano bar.
It was closed by Cliff’s son John Warling in October 1991.
The Blue Note Cocktail Lounge was located at 622 – 11th Ave. No. in Minneapolis.
Formerly Leo Roth’s Bar, it opened on October 9, 1962. Boyd Yancy and Thomas A. Lewis were the proprietors and Tilly Anthony was the manager. Jazz venue, favorite of Dave Moore.
Tommy Lewis was shot and killed on August 24, 1969.
From 1967 to at least 1972 the owners were Benjamin W. Fields and Claude S. Thomas. In a 1972 interview they said that business was down because more blacks were going to downtown clubs. Thomas said that when he first got there in 1967 “I thought I was in a western movie” for all the people with guns in the place. Still there in 1974.
The Blue Ox was located at 918 Third Ave. So. in Minneapolis.
It opened in March 1963 with “no strippers and no twisters,” reported Will Jones of the Tribune. A co-owner was Ockie Berman. Another owner was David P. Aronsohn. It was open by March 15, 1963.
Ads promised “Floor Shows! Dancing!” Kitty and Her Aly Kats were the featured performers in 1963-64.
1969: Dining, dancing and floor shows such as the Jolly Jacks and Fraser & Nevers in the main lounge.
In the Blue Room (where the swingers are), sing along to Judy Moen and Valerie.
- “They had a few booths back in the corner that had telephones in them. I knew a couple bookies that took their action there!”
- In the 50’s, it was owned by Bill Craig.
- Chef Earl Miller
- Kenny & Moose Tending Bar !!!!
- Mid-December 1984: Last ad?
- March 1985: New Rock club, John Sean Clerken new owner
- September 1986: Clerken aka Sean’s Irish Pub filed Chapter 11
- February 21, 1987: Auction
U of M, early 1940s.
The Booker T Cafe, sometimes seen as the Booker T Tavern, was located at 381 Rondo Ave. at Western Ave. in St. Paul. There was also a second location in Downtown St. Paul. This is a difficult tale to tell, because there are actually four venues involved, several addresses, and the history is totally non-linear. I will do the best I can. I am deeply grateful to members of the Ellis family for their contributions to this page.
My sources for this page were the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, accessed online. The St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press are not available online, and although they are available at the Minnesota Historical Society on microfilm, they are not searchable. I have also done a search through the St. Paul Recorder, a weekly newspaper for the black community.
Jeremiah Ellis, a descendant of Mance Ellis, has requested, and rightly so, that I include this paragraph that acknowledges the inherent racism of the mainstream press of the day:
This article is deeply limited by the inherent bias in the mid-century media reporting upon which it is based. The narrow reporting and narrative does not depict the fullness of African American individuals nor account for their broader impact in the African American community. Complicit in this biased worldview are the policy makers who, in their administration and regulation, prioritized land and property over Black livelihood and people.
There are few resources available about St. Paul buildings. The Minneapolis papers reveal that:
- Bessie Pierce ran a tavern at 381 Rondo Street in July 1936.
- In February 1944, John C. McGee, Cafe owner, plead not guilty to the charge of selling liquor to an Indian woman.
- The building was a tavern in January 1945.
- It is unclear when the building at 381 Rondo Street became Booker T – a guess is between 1947 and 1950.
THE ELLIS FAMILY
The Booker T was owned by Mance Ellis, who was born in 1896 in Mexia, Texas.
When viewed through the national lens of the Great Migration, Mance Ellis was a migrant who sought greater opportunity for his family outside Jim Crow oppression of Texas. He journeyed with his wife, young children, his sister and his little brother the 1,100 miles from Texas, to Minnesota, seeking space to carve out a life for himself and his family and believing Minnesota would allow upward mobility. However pre-civil rights era Minnesota unraveled those aspirations. In 1945, 321 of the 601 Twin Cities employers who responded to a survey said they would not be willing to employ African Americans.
We do know that in 1940, and up to at least 1947, Mance Ellis owned his own business as a decorator on Rice Street and County Road D in St. Paul.
Kamuel Ellis Family:
Mance and his wife Mattie Ellis had four sons (Herman, Rudolph, Booker, and Kamuel) and two daughters (Ella Mae and Rosemary) who survived to adulthood. The property on Rice Street and County Road D in St. Paul was referred to as The Farm. Mattie Ellis was a Deaconess at St. James AME Church in St. Paul.
THE BOOKER T
Mance named the Booker T after his son, paying homage to Booker T. Ellis’ illustrious boxing career (26 wins [11 KOs], 21 losses [4 KOs], 4 ties) in the 1940s. Because of his boxing days, Booker T was a celebrity in the Rondo neighborhood. Also involved was Mance’s son Rudolph K. (Rudy) Ellis, who was born in 1924 in Minnesota.
From a Minnesota economic perspective, the Booker T was intended as a protective shield to counter oppression directed toward Minnesota Black men. For Mance’s sons Booker T. and Rudy, this protective shield was both an inheritance and a commitment to Minnesota.
The Kamuel Ellis Family:
The Booker T on Rondo, the second location in Downtown St. Paul, and other manifestations are part of the community and Ellis Family lore. The Booker T was a Barbeque Rib restaurant and grocery store for the Rondo community in St. Paul. Its history as a music venue is anecdotal and based on family stories of Jazz, including friendships with Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. Music was part of this tavern, Barbeque Rib joint, bottle club, etc. – a speakeasy with food, et al after hours that spans from the late 1950s to the early 1960s in the Rondo community.
THE BOOKER T AFTER HOURS
As noted above, after the grocery store and restaurant closed for the night, the Booker T became an after-hours club where drinks (or set-ups) were served, music was played, and people danced. It was located on Rondo Ave. in St. Paul, the hub of black commercial and social life in a segregated city where there were few choices for entertainment, no matter what your financial or social strata. Name entertainers would drop by after their shows Downtown and relax with the locals.
In January 1960, Mance reported that someone broke into his place at 381 Rondo and stole cigarettes, money, tubes and recording chassis from the juke box, a case of beer, and 25 barbequed ribs. The robber probably enjoyed the ribs the most; Mance Ellis was famous for his barbeque sauce and took the recipe to his grave.
The building, along with most of the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, was demolished for the construction of Interstate 94. The section between Minneapolis and St. Paul was completed in 1968.
BOOKER T CAFE NO. 2
A second Booker T Cafe shows up on or before July 1959, which either moved around a lot, or had a peripatetic address. In July 1959 it was described in the Recorder as 447 1/2 Broadway in a story about someone who took coins from a jukebox and 25 pounds of ribs. Turns out it was an inside job. The perpetrator admitted to taking the ribs but not the coins.
In September 1959, the Recorder gave the same cafe’s address as 579 1/2 Broadway. This comes from a report of a sting and arrest of a waiter for selling liquor without a license to a “Pretty N.Y. Policewoman.” The waiter got a sentence of $100 or 10 days. Mance Ellis, proprietor of the Booker T, was notified to report to the Morals Division Office.
St. Paul bootleggers are reportedly nervous and worried over the new departure of the St. Paul police in securing evidence. One “legger” said “the town’s getting hot, guess I’ll have to get me a job.” (St. Paul Recorder, September 25, 1959)
The next time we see the Booker T No. 2 is in November 1959, when Mance and an employee were having a go about wages she said she was due. The police were called, she had a go at them too, and off to jail she went. She was given a 15-day suspended sentence. The address of the Cafe was given as Grove and Broadway.
All of these addresses are gone, but as far as I can tell were in the same general location, in the northeast section of where Highways 94 and 35E come together.
THE RONDO IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION
Mance Ellis was also the proprietor of the Rondo Improvement Association, 588 Rondo Ave. His partner was German Sperling, who owned the building. From about 1957 to 1959, the St. Paul Recorder published these ads weekly:
Although this organization appears to have been styled like a service club like the Rotary and the Kiwanis, it did fit the description of a “Bottle Club,” where members would bring alcohol and drink and (I hope) dance until the wee hours. Since they were not regulated, they stayed open whenever they wanted.
Bottle clubs became popular in the Rondo community because segregation made black people unwelcome in white clubs, and there were few opportunities for black entrepreneurs to start their own clubs. The clubs on Sixth Ave. North in Minneapolis had been removed and there were fewer and fewer places to go.
NORTH CENTRAL COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LETTER
But the Rondo Improvement Club’s activities were not going unnoticed. These are excerpts from a letter sent on January 21, 1958, to the St. Paul Commissioner of Public Safety by an organization called the North Central Community Association:
We are writing you of our grave concern, relative to the appalling increase of disreputable clubs, and “after hour joints” operating illegally,, in the Rondo-St. Anthony area. The coming of the proposed Freeway through her and the scarcity of suitable sites has caused many of these clubs to seek to establish themselves in private homes and others to relocate deep into the residential area. The apparent big profit and freedom of operation seems to be the cause for the continued existence of most and an incentive for others to form. These clubs obviously are a public menace and a hot bed for crime and vice in the neighborhood.
We cannot over emphasize the fact that a petition is already on file against the club operating at 588 Rondo Ave. This club advertises in the paper for memberships and operates full-force illegally after legal establishments close. It is gaining a wide reputation as a good time wide open club which attracts many undesirables in the Twin Cities and the upper midwest. Vile and vulgar language is frequently used in the presence of passing school children.
Published in the St. Paul Recorder, January 31, 1958
THE TURTLE CLUB
The Turtle Club appears to have been the same kind of organization as the Rondo Improvement Club – references in the St. Paul Recorder show that it provided scholarships and prizes for different events in the community. The treasurer was Rudy Ellis, Mance Ellis’s son. Booker T. Ellis was the acting secretary of the Turtle Club at one point. The Club started with a membership of 400, and by 1958 it had grown to 1,000. The Turtle Club was also mentioned in the letter to the police of January 21, 1958, quoted above.
THE BOTTLE CLUB RAID
At 2:19 am on January 25, 1958, 211 people were arrested in raids of the Rondo Improvement Association and the Turtle Club – described as the biggest raids in St. Paul history. The City’s Chief of Police personally led the raids, along with 70 police officers. One description of the raid said that the customers just kept on dancing until they were rounded up – music!
Both Mance and Booker T. Ellis (and their partners) were released on $200 bail. They were also charged with disorderly conduct. (Minneapolis Star, January 25, 1958)
THE TURTLE CLUB REDUX
The January 1958 raid of the Rondo Improvement Association may have meant the end of that particular institution. Reading through the St. Paul Recorder, it seems clear that Mance Ellis was a prominent member of society and his church, and may not have wanted to associate himself with anything unsavory.
But the Turtle Club lived on, and would do, in theory, for six more years.
Searching for the Turtle Club found it at several addresses. The first address noted in January 1958 was Western and Rondo. An item from April 1959 about a shooting cited 395 Rondo. Another report said 354 Rondo.
On September 18, 1959, the State Highway Department took possession of the Turtle Club and finally closed it for good. BUT… the article didn’t give the address of this particular Turtle Club, which was described as a two-story frame structure.
The Turtle Club wasn’t licked yet, and by 1960, it had moved on to 582 Rondo, where it stayed until the bitter end.
In June 1960, an ordinance regulating Bottle Clubs was being discussed in St. Paul. Mance’s son Rudy was identified as the operator of the Turtle Club. The ordinance passed. The Turtle Club was described as the best known of the bottle clubs, having a capacity of 200, with many of its patrons coming from Minneapolis.
The club’s application to renew its bottle license was rejected on June 30, 1963. The Turtle Club was no more. At least legally.
ONE SINK VS UNITED STATES
On October 9, 1963, an IRS Agent and St. Paul Police raided the Turtle Club, described as a “former bottle club,” confiscating liquor, fixtures, and gambling equipment. It’s unclear whether there were any actual customers in the place – no arrests were made, and the Turtle Club was never charged with a crime.
But as a result of the raid, St. Paul attorneys Douglas Thomson and John A. Cochrane filed a lawsuit entitled “One Sink et al. versus the United States of America.” The suit charged that the sink’s Constitutional rights were violated when it was “rudely torn from its natural appurtenance” behind the bar in the basement of the Turtle Club. The suit asked that the sink – and all items taken in the raid – be suppressed as evidence and returned to their natural state.
Assistant Federal Attorney Sidney P. Abramson, defending the USA in the case, asked the judge to throw out the case, claiming that One Sink had no legal claim – “without a stopper.” Thomson countered, “This case has been a terrible drain on our firm, but we feel we come into court with clean hands.” (Minneapolis Tribune, January 26, 1964)
Well, the hearing began before U.S. District Judge Earl R. Larson. The suit was in Federal court because of the presence of the IRS agent. On July 16, 1964, Larson “politely” threw the suit out, ruling that the sink did not have any rights under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. Larson also held that the U.S. District Court did not have jurisdiction, because the IRS Agent had only observed the raid, which was planned and carried out by St. Paul Police. Cochrane opined that “We hope all our efforts have not gone down the drain.” (Minneapolis Star, July 18, 1964)
Not to be dissuaded, Cochrane brought the suit to the the Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, but it was thrown out of that court as well, on July 17, 1964. Cochrane had failed to pay the $25 filing fee. (Minneapolis Star, July 18, 1964)
Booker T. Ellis died March 15, 1965, at age 43 and is interred at Fort Snelling
Rudolph Ellis died in November 1965, at age 42 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul.
Mance Ellis outlived both Booker and Rudy. He died in February 1972, at the age of 76 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery near wife Mattie and son Rudy.
Kamuel Ellis died in September 2013, at age 86 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery.
When viewed through a modern trauma-informed perspective, the consequences of forced closures of The Booker T and other Rondo community assets looms heavy on the misfortunes of Booker T. and Rudy Ellis in the years that followed. With their inheritance stolen, their early deaths in 1965 were hastened, Booker T. at 43 followed by Rudy Ellis at 42. The Ellis family is but one example of why the Minnesota Department of Transportation formally apologized for the decisions to demolish Rondo Ave., resulting in Interstate 94 in St. Paul today.
Bootlegger Sam’s was above Mama D’s Italian Restaurant in Dinkytown.
The Bottle Inn was located at 225 W. 78th Street at Pleasant Ave. So. in Bloomington. Here’s a long shot of the street, with the Bottle Inn right in the middle.
According to the folks on Facebook, the building was in the shape of a huge bottle, and was a tourist attraction. An ad says it was “Known from Coast to Coast.” Jean Bellefeuille of the Bloomington Historical Society, who was kind enough to send the photo below, said that Pete Bove, a sign painter for Naegle, painted the large bottle sign that was the front facade of the building. The photo may have come from Stan Danielson. Here’s a closeup:
In April to September 1937, it was operated by Ernie Fisher.
On May 28, 1938, six men were arrested in an “affray” to do with picketing of the Inn. (Minneapolis Star, June 9, 1938)
An ad in the Republican Register dated October 1940, tells us that the Bottle Inn’s proprietor was Carl Miller, and that it had “Dancing Every Nite.” The address was given as just 78th Street.
Music was provided by the Bottle Inn Orchestra, which made the records shown below. The images come from Gary Anderson, whose father was in the Orchestra.
TRAGEDY AT THE BOTTLE INN
In June 1942, a grisly truck/motorcycle accident occurred outside the Bottle Inn, when a young man took a 14-year-old girl he met there dancing on a ride on his motorcycle. They were hit from behind by a truck hauling ten tons of cattle. The truck driver was not speeding and swore he did not see the light on the motorcycle, which may have been covered by the girl’s coat. He was not charged. The young man was killed and the girl was severely injured. Fortunately, a doctor was in the car behind the truck and applied a tourniquet to the girl, although she ultimately lost a leg above the knee. (Minneapolis Star, June 24, 1942) In August 1942, a benefit was held for her at the Bottle Inn.
ENTERTAINMENT AT THE BOTTLE
Oh, here’s a sad one. Says here in a 1948 article that proprietor Paul Hammer installed the latest model General Electric television at the Inn and summarily fired the barbershop quartet that had been providing the entertainment. Hammer considered it an opportunity to provide entertainment without extra charge.
He planned to have daily broadcasts at 4:00 and 7:50 pm each weekday, working up to 30 hours of TV entertainment every week. KSTP was the first and only TV station in 1948, and the news was on at 7:50. Usually there was a baseball game or football game that started at 2:00, so the 4:00 time is a bit of a mystery. Maybe the Bottle Inn was the Twin Cities’ first sports bar! Thanks, Terry Ahlstrom!
In June 1952, Paul Hammer owned a slot machine license at the Bottle Inn. Hammer was also one of a shrinking number of people holding a slot machine license in January 1954.
BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE
The contents of the Bottle Inn were advertised for sale in November 1957. The site was probably destroyed by the construction of the I-494 interchange at Nicollet Ave., and is now the approximate site of Sam’s Club on American Blvd.
There were at least a couple of establishments called the Boulevard; this one was at 5530 Wayzata Blvd. in Golden Valley. Until 1931, the road would have been referred to as Superior Boulevard.
This Boulevard Cafe started out as a run-down roadhouse, owned by William J. Schindler, who had owned Bill’s Place (5410 Wayzata Blvd.).
Harold and Cecelia Lynch became partners in the place in 1943.
In 1945 there was Dancing Every Night – it was probably an early jazz venue.
Iver Stanger was the proprietor in 1945, and he put his name on every ad. And the ads were very verbose. He called the place the New Boulevard.
In August 1945 Stanger lost his on-sale liquor license because too many had been issued.
The place was raided on August 30, 1947, for illegal liquor sales.
Here’s a view from the inside, taken on Mother’s Day, 1948.
In 1949, Tommy McGovern, his piano and Orchestra, provided music for dancing every evening except the traditionally slow Mondays.
Harold E. Lynch and Norman Laswell applied jointly for a liquor license in August 1951. Laswell had worked at McCarthy’s in 1947.
In 1951, Norman Laswell was identified as the Manager. Stanger had moved on to be the manager of the food department of the Casanova Bar, Downtown.
Harold E. Lynch bought the property in about 1953.
In its prime, the Boulevard had an extensive menu. The picture below may be too small to see, but it covers a lot of ground.
In 1960, Harold’s son Robert Lynch became a partner in the business.
1963: “Ours is a humble place, but we think we have something to offer you.”
1967: dancing nightly to the Richard Conrad Trio.
1969: New Tyrol Lounge.
1973: Dance to the Skylarks in the main dining room every Friday and Saturday night, and the “Carnegie Hall of Piano Bars,” frequently featuring my fourth grade music teacher, Judy Moen.
A salad bar replaced the dance floor in the main dining room in 1978. (Minneapolis Star, March 13, 1980)
Harold E. Lynch died on March 8, 1980.
The Piano Bar in the Loft was removed in 1980. (Minneapolis Star, March 13, 1980)
The restaurant was closed abruptly on July 2, 1982, and employees weren’t paid their final paychecks.
Contents were auctioned off in October 1985
The Boulevard was torn down for construction of I-394.
The Boulevard Cafe was located at 533 Dupont Ave. near Sixth Ave. No. It may have been a converted store. Stebbins tells of a famous session in 1944 when some members of Duke Ellington’s band showed up after hours and jammed until 10:00 the next morning. Another night Ellington and Count Basie were in town on the same night. The jamming started at about 10:30 pm and so many musicians joined in that there wasn’t nearly enough room on the little bandstand. Stebbins quotes from Jim Bennett, “Jazz in the Twin Cities,” Twin Citian, Vol. VI, no. 7, March 1964, p. 17:
Along about midnight, the musicians took a break and the Boulevard was suddenly la Place Pigalle. Hookers got up and promenaded around the room in search of the night’s business. Peddlers stopped at your table to offer magic store novelties, loaded dice or “art” photos.
A black dwarf, less than three feet tall, raced through the room holding two flaming torches above his head. He squirmed up on the bandstand and swooped the torches around in great arcs to attract attention. The crowd quieted and he held one torch aloft, then plunged it into his mouth. A moment later he drew it out, still flaming… He pulled a sword from under his coat, saluted the audience, and slid it slowly down his gullet. The crowd applauded as he pulled it out…
There was a rush of tables when word went around that the Ellington and Basie groups were on their way… And then an interesting thing happened. Earlier preparations for the musicians’ heroes appeared casual in comparison with the arrangements now in progress. Heads craned to see who it was that merited such attention. After a few minutes a middle-aged Negro wearing glasses and a conservative dark suit was escorted to the seat of honor… There was no question of the position he occupied in the Boulevard’s firmament. He was a ranking star, the premiere personage…
His name was Fletcher Henderson…
In March 1945 proprietor Elmer Lewis and William L. Kelly were indicted by the Hennepin County Grand Jury on charges of purchasing stolen whiskey. They pleaded not guilty and were released on $1,500 bail. No details on the outcome.
This dance hall at 1929 North Rice Street in St. Paul saw some action over the years:
THE BOULEVARD DANCE HALL
Rosemary Ruffenach writes:
Family stories have my great uncle Ted (Theodore) Laber (1905-1982) and his sister Martha Laber operating a dance hall out of the building, likely sometime in the 1930s. I’m told that the land behind the dance hall was used as a dump for many years. Wrecked cars would just be rolled into the muck and would soon sink. Later on, Ted only allowed construction materials to be dumped, due to the smell arising from the brew. I am attaching a family photo from Ted’s collection. If you use it, please credit him and me. Thanks.
The Labers managed the establishment at 1986 Rice (Dean’s grocery, tavern and Red Crown gas pumps) until the mid 1930s. (The Dean’s establishment continues to exist, now as McCarrons Bar and Grill.) By 1938, the Labers had their own establishment at 1730 N. Rice, also a grocery store, tavern and Texaco station. In the 1980s the land was sold for the strip mall at Rice and Larpenteur. Subsequently, Laber’s Liquors continued to exist at that location, but the family no longer had a connection. In 2007, it was sold to Merwin Liquors, but the original name was maintained.)
Curtis’s Place? Cortls’ Place?
In September 1955 it went under new management and became Club Reservoir, featuring entertainment Fridays through Sundays.
The Boulevards of Paris Night Club was located at 1100 W. University Ave. near the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Paul.
It was operated by John J. Lane, and was described as a “well-known Prohibition spot” (Strib June 3, 1952) – don’t know what that means, but Lane was a Detective in the St. Paul Police Department, and a Ramsey County Commissioner from 1926 to 1934.
“Peg About Town” in the Minneapolis Tribune gave it a rave review when it opened in September 1929. The Northwest’s Smartest Night Club featured a complete dinner for $1.50.
The place was known to be very elegant, and provided top-name entertainment to its patrons, such as:
- Fats Waller
- Benny Goodman
- Louis Armstrong
- Ben Pollack’s band made a lengthy appearance in the late 1920s and early ’30s with Jack Teagarden.
- McKinney’s Cotton Pickers
- With the end of Prohibition, Norvy Mulligan’s band played there frequently. (But that doesn’t make sense because it was out of business six months after beer was made legal…)
For about a week (or maybe not at all) the night club was known as the Vanity Fair – This was at the end of September, beginning of October 1933.
Its next iteration was the Silver Dime, which was advertised between September 1934 and mid-June 1935. Whether there was something in between the Vanity Fair and the Silver Dime is unclear, but the the Silver Dime is advertised as “Formerly the Boulevards of Paris.”
By 1949, 1100 W. University Ave. was the site of a National Food Store.
The Bow and Arrow Club was located just north of First Street in Mendota, beginning in early 1941.
In the early 1950s the Bow and Arrow became a modern jazz stronghold featuring the Bob Davis Quartet and Rook Ganz’s band. There were also Sunday afternoon sessions which primarily attracted local musicians.
A couple of years later the owner invited Doc Evans to take over in an attempt to bring Dixieland back to Mendota. For the occasion the name was changed to the Rampart [Street] Club.
The Rampart Street Club was not successful, and a few years later it again became the Bow and Arrow Club, occasionally featuring a jazz group.”
The Bowery Tavern was located at 9400 – 6th Ave. No. (Highway 55 and County Road 18) in Golden Valley. The address today would be 9400 Golden Valley Road.
Note: There were other Bowerys, in particular one at 9 Washington Ave. No. in Minneapolis.
This one in Golden Valley was in place as of June 1939. It was strictly a tavern, with 3.2 beer and setups.
In 1952, the Golden Valley Village Council approved the transfer of the Bowery’s liquor license from Chester Tomchek to an employee, Frank J. Gracyasz. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 6, 1952).
In 1955, the Bowery figured in an inquiry about the fitness of Police Chief Al McGinnis to remain on the force. Testimony of a temporary policeman was that McGinnis, then off duty, called the temp and ordered him to get a bottle of gin from the Bowery and bring it to the address of his girlfriend – in the Village squad car. (Minneapolis Star, September 13, 1955) McGinnis was discharged on 11 counts of malfeasance, and he appealed the action in a court case with a jury. The jury found that he should be reinstated, but the Village Council took the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the meantime, McGinnis was fined for doing electrical wiring without a license…
In November 1955, a church got a permit to build within 400 feet of the bar, which wouldn’t have been legal the other way around. (Minneapolis Star, November 16, 1955)
In 1959 there was live music and dancing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
On June 17, 1959, owner Frank “Lefty” Gracyasz sold a pint of vodka, a fifth of vodka, and a fifth of whiskey to a 17-year-old from his adjacent liquor store. The teenager then took a friend’s car and got into an accident on Glenwood Ave. and Glenwood Parkway. On July 6, 1959, despite his claim that he did not even sell one of the brands, Lefty was convicted in Golden Valley Justice Court of selling liquor to a minor. He appealed his conviction in Hennepin County District Court, but lost and was sentenced to a $100 fine or 30 days in the workhouse. He paid the fine. On December 15, 1959, Lefty lost his off-sale license for the liquor store, but kept his 3.2 beer license for the tavern. The Village Hall was packed for the hearing, and boos went up as Lefty’s license was revoked. (Minneapolis Star, December 16, 1959)
Lee Lofstrand was the new owner as of May 26, 1960.
Joe LaRocque was identified as the owner in a report of a robbery on November 15, 1961.
By 1965 the building was home to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7051.
A new building replaced it in 1976.
This page covers two venues owned by the same man, Boyd Houser. Additions, corrections, photos, and stories welcome: contact me!
BOYD’S 622 BAR
Boyd’s daughter Carolyn Houser Talberg reports on Facebook that for years her dad had a small bar on the NE corner of Plymouth and Lyndale. The Minneapolis Department of Housing and Redevelopment wanted that land to build low income housing. They gave him land on the Mississippi River for a dollar. “What a shame, as that old bar was replaced by what is now old shambled houses. That old building was so cool!
BOYD’S ON THE RIVER
The new Boyd’s was located at 1315 N. West River Road. Carolyn goes on to say that “Boyd’s on the River started out as a supper club and my brother Michael convinced our Dad to turn it into a rock and rock club!” XL5 was a frequent house band. The club featured two bands, one upstairs and one downstairs.
The undated flier below indicates a diverse musical identity, with Country, Rock, and New Wave mixed in.
Boyd’s had a particular penchant for paraphernalia, which I love!
THE T-SHIRTS OF BOYD’S ON THE RIVER
Apparently Boyd Houser put out some pretty popular T-shirts, as two different people have sent me images of their treasured barwear from years ago. The first comes from David Kinkaid, as modeled by his daughter. Both are cute!
Then Todd Erickson shared images of his Boyd’s Ape T-Shirt with me, with this story:
Back in the old days, a friend and I headed to the TCs from Rush City to check out some bars w/music. Somehow we ended up at Boyd’s – I remember it was just packed and we could hardly move. It was wild and awesome for two country boys in the big town. Never thought about it then but now I wonder about the fire code on amount of people there? That night Boyd’s was giving away T-shirts, but all they had left was mediums and I took a X-large back then. But it was so cool looking I took the medium. Boyd Houser did not monkey around with making that elaborate T-shirt. It just sat in my dresser drawer for years. I moved to Taylors Falls a few years ago. I got into hanging the clothing my Mom kept all these years of us kids, especially T’s on my walls and now the items have started to go on the ceiling.
Brady’s Pub was located at 604 Hennepin Ave., on the site where a sandwich shop and two different restaurants had been.
The first listing in the Minneapolis papers was an ad for a young lady to play piano in the evenings at Brady’s Bar. This was on May 10, 1935. In 1936, the bar sponsored a bowling team. “Central Lanes” was apparently in the basement.
A 1938 list of renewals of liquor licenses shows Harry H. Clark doing business as Brady’s Bar and the Coconut Grove. The latter was apparently on the second floor.
Ads for the Coconut Grove appear in 1937, and the address is just listed as 6th and Hennepin. The address for the licenses are listed as 3 North Sixth Street and 602 – 604 Hennepin Ave.
In 1940, Walter Winchell reported that Brady’s Bar introduced “miniature picture machines” to the area, manufactured by Auto-Pix of Chicago. For a nickel you could get 3 1/2 minutes of entertainment on a 3′ by 4′ screen. These may have been early versions of Soundies, popular in bars from 1940 to 1947. (Minnesota Times-Tribune, July 25, 1940)
When the War came, news of the bowling team was replaced by ads for help, as otherwise plentiful workers went off to the military. Some ads asked for Porters – Colored or White.
On August 13, 1945, owner H.H. Clark was called in by the Hennepin County Grand Jury for questioning with regards to legal ownership of liquor licenses. Two City Aldermen were also called. Clark was to be questioned on the 17th, but the grand jury was told that he was on vacation and could not be located. A subpoena was issued on August 28 for the missing Clark.
A St. Paul man attracted the attention of 300 to 400 people when he was bounced from Brady’s three times. On the fourth attempt he was taken to jail. He put up a fight and was charged with disorderly conduct. (Minneapolis Daily Times, June 22, 1946) Officers also testified that the man had a gun on him. The judge fined him $25 and stayed it for a year.
On Sunday, July 10, 1949, Harry Clark, identified as president and manager of Brady’s Bar, underworld figure Tommy Banks, and their wives were out on Clark’s 30 foot cabin cruiser on Lake Minnetonka when it blew up and burned to the water line. The gas tank had just been filled, and firemen said a spark from the motor may have ignited fumed that had collected in the bilge. (Minneapolis Tribune, July 11, 1949) Despite the two men’s friendship, Tommy later sued Harry for his injuries. (Minneapolis Tribune, August 12, 1954)
In 1950, Harry Clark (and Tommy Banks) were involved with streetcar-to-bus scandal that rocked Minneapolis. True to form, when it came time to be questioned, Clark could not be found. (Minneapolis Tribune, October 18, 1950)
In January 1952, Charles Halloran became manager of Brady’s while Clark vacationed until the spring. Then Halloran would return to the Blue Goose Inn, in Garrison, Minnesota, where he had been manager for several years. This article revealed that the license for Brady’s was held by Brady’s Bar, Inc., 3707 Grand Ave. The occupant of that apartment was Mrs. Lumina Brancheau. Phillip Brancheau and Harry Clark signed the surety bond for the bar. One of the incorporators of Brady’s was Mark C. McCabe, who was also an incorporator of the Blue Goose. The others were Holleran and Mrs. Reta Banks, wife of Tommy Banks. (Minneapolis Tribune, January 5, 1952)
On January 6, 1953, Brady’s Bar made the headlines when John Card, son of local broadcaster and comedian Clellan Card, was killed in a car crash. His friend was driving, and admitted that he had had a few drinks at Brady’s. The driver was charged a fine, but the City Council ordered an investigation and threatened to pull the licenses of the bar. (Minneapolis Star, February 27, 1953) A hearing was held on March 11, 1953, but the matter was tabled.
On May 21, 1954, a fire in the Knights of Columbus clubrooms on the second floor did damage to the building. (Minneapolis Star)
In 1956, more mayhem began at Brady’s, where Donald A. Trinko was introduced to Mrs. Gladys Duprey. The next morning, Gladys was dead in a room at the Leamington Hotel, and Trinko was telling his wife “I think I killed somebody.”
In 1959, Cedric Adams reported that “Brady’s on 6th is still pitching western with the Rhythm Rangers quartet plus Texas Bill Strength …” (Minneapolis Star, April 13, 1959)
One report says that Dixieland was being played in the late ’50s and early ’60s. This comes from the obituary of Lloyd G. Smith, whose band the Lloyd George Quintet, played at Brady’s Bar. (Minneapolis Tribune, August 5, 1987)
By at least January 1962, Brady’s had become a jazz venue, hosting the Hall Brothers Dixieland Band.
Butch Thompson posted the photo below on Facebook:
During the early ’60s, I played clarinet at Brady’s on 6th and Hennepin with the Hall Brothers Jazz Band. Here’s a photo of us as we left work on New Year’s Eve, 1964. This was our last gig there — we’d been given our notice a few weeks earlier. BTW I was under the legal drinking age — 21 — but we rigged something up with a letter from my parents. Left to right: Don “Doggy” Berg, drums; Charlie DeVore, cornet; Stan Hall, piano/leader; Mike Polad, banjo; Butch Thompson; Bill Evans, bass. Absent: Russ Hall, trombone. Photo by Dave Pfankuchen. — with Don “Doggie” Berg, Charlie DeVore, Stan Hall Piano/Leader, Michael Polad and Bill Evans.
In 1968, Brady’s was back to specializing in Country and Western music.
In 1970, an expansion of Shinders news stand extended into space formerly occupied by Brady’s Bar. (Minneapolis Star, December 30, 1970)
In February 1971, Barbara Flanagan of the Star reported that Brady’s would be getting a new facade.
The bar became known as Brady’s Pub in about 1974.
In 1988, now called Brady’s Pub, the bar received a five day suspension for drug trafficking and gambling. This was an especially severe penalty. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 13, 1988)
The Break was a folk spot at Oak and Washington in 1962.
The Bridge Square Tavern was located at 209 Nicollet Ave., in the heart of Skid Row in Downtown Minneapolis.
Bridge Square was where Hennepin and Nicollet Avenues came together at the oldest part of the City, and where approximately 3,000 transient men lived in cheap hotels on pensions from working on railroads, lumber camps, and other rough-and-tumble jobs.
The area was one of only a few in Minneapolis where bars that sold liquor were allowed, according to the Patrol Limits ordinance, so there was an inordinate number of bars, taverns, and liquor stores in the area.
This particular building goes back to before 1888. Demolition notes give it a footprint of 21 x 119 x 38 ft. It was a 3-story brick building.
The upper floors were as a 15-room lodging house for men called (at least in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40) as the La Salle Hotel. One of its early owners was Charles J. Budde.
Early uses of the ground floor are usually noted as a store, a saloon, or a lunch place.
On April 29, 1924, there was a fire in the basement that threatened to destroy the building. The newspapers reports told us that the hotel was called the La Salle and that the first floor held the Eureka Lunch.
From 1924 to 1925, a man named Hugo E. Blair had a Pool hall.
In 1926, W. Kalinsky had a City permit for soft drinks and lunch, pool.
From 1928 to 1932 it was Moore’s Restaurant, owned by T.J. Moore. From August 1929 to 1932 it was simultaneously for sale and advertising for waiters.
By February 1933, Einar and Emma Smith owned the Smith Restaurant.
THE BRIDGE SQUARE BAR
In April 1934, Harry Sobelman and Bessie Feldman received an on-sale liquor license and became the co-owners of the Bridge Square Bar. Bessie’s husband John was a bartender, but couldn’t be an owner because of the year-long stint he did at Leavenworth for a Prohibition violation in 1930. In May 1934, Harry and Bessie got permits for a restaurant, cigarettes and soft drinks, non-intoxicating malt liquor (on and off).
The joint was jumpin’ in 1935, apparently, when the Bridge Square Bar showed up in Walter Winchell’s fake column about where to go in the Twin Cities. I mean, has WW ever heard of Minneapolis? But someone wrote this copy in his unique patter:
The band at the Bridge Square Tavern is among the tops when it comes to torrid tootling – and when resting why not eat – and wel – well, drop in some evening when you’re out – and take a look – and a bite – and a dance. Mr. and Mrs. You-Know will very probably be there. (Minneapolis Tribune, November 15, 1935)
In February 1937, proprietor Harry was convicted for allowing employees to let a 16-year-old frequent the bar. He took it to the State Supreme Court and lost.
Probably as a result of the court case, in March 1937, the bar’s liquor license was transferred from Harry and Bessie to just Bessie. Bessie also got licenses for tavern, dance hall, restaurant, cigarettes and soft drinks.
For some reason the proprietor’s name in yet another crime story was given as Ben Feldman.
In November 1947, Bessie’s beer and liquor licenses were transferred to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Minneapolis Aerie No. 34, 325 Second Ave. So.
And the Bridge Square Bar went under. In its 13 years, the Bridge Square Bar had more fights, robberies, sluggings (that was a technical term used then), beatings, and people with razor blades in their pockets to fill a book. It may not have been the worst place in the Gateway, but something about it made guys mad. And yet, there must have been women – there was music, there was dancing – even Walter Winchell said you could take your lady friend for a night out at the Bridge Square.
BRIDGE SQUARE TAVERN
November 1947 – Bernard Feitelsohn, a former bartender at the abandoned Bridge Square Bar, applied for a beer license. At first it was opposed by his local Alderman, but since it would just be a beer tavern, Bernard knew the territory, and he promised to clean the place up, the permit was approved.
One thing Bernard didn’t have was a dance hall license: on June 28, 1950, Bernard was charged with allowing dancing without one. He was also in trouble for serving minors. While visiting the Tavern, the morals squad took in seven people for drunkenness. A photo of the Unfortunate Seven being herded into the paddy wagon graced the Minneapolis Star the next day.
In September 1950, Bernard was caught by Federal Agents of the Department of the Interior, selling beer to Indians. This was no longer against Minnesota law but was still a Federal offense. On February 13, 1951, he was sentenced to six months in the Workhouse and fined $250. (Minneapolis Tribune, March 7, 1951) Bernard lost his beer license on March 9, 1951.
In 1951 the new proprietor was Lige Udell. The new license was granted under protest.
In March 1956, Sam E. Silverman was the proprietor. In June 1956 the Tavern was given a 10-day suspension by the court because a waitress had been found guilty of keeping liquor and wine at the 3.2 beer place.
In June 1959, the owner was identified as Mrs. Kathryn Chester.
DEMOLITION AND REBIRTH
The building was part of the ambitious Gateway Redevelopment Project, where 20 blocks of mostly old, obsolete buildings were torn down by the City of Minneapolis, with plans to rebuild newer and better buildings and infrastructure and resettle the 3,000 residents of the area. The demolition part of the plan was carried out, and some building was done, but to this day, some of the land that was cleared has remained barren.
In the case of the Bridge Square Tavern, the fixtures were sold in July 1960, and the demolition permit was pulled in October 1960. And the geography of the streets has changed, but if I’m reading the map right, in its place stands what was originally the Northwestern National Life Building, the symbol of what was supposed to be the New Gateway.
This appears to be a music venue inside Brighton Lanes Bowling Alley. Babe Wagner’s name is associated with it, but he was really a jazz/polka musician, and during that time he was mostly playing the Bel-Rae Ballroom. Other than this one ad, I didn’t find any other evidence of it.
The Broken Drum was located at 327 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
This was a coffee house/jazz venue, from 1966 to 1967.
Allan Holbert of the Minneapolis Tribune described it in an article about Coffeehouses on July 3,1966:
Owner of the Broken Drum, a jazz-and-folk music coffeehouse at 427 Cedar Ave. is Mike Fagin, a teacher who works with children with hearing handicaps at Agassiz School. The Drum is decorated with paintings and sculpture that have been loaned by student artists. In addition to a variety of coffees, the Broken Drum offers such exotic cold drinks as a “Charlie Parker,” a “One Step Beyond,” and a “Crippled Wing.” Whenever the Broken Drum’s folk or jazz performers aren’t on stage, customers can make selections from a juke box that includes jazz and classical music, plus a recording of a “Lone Ranger” radio show. The Broken Drum is open until 2 am Thursday through Sunday, but the entertainment, because of a city ordinance, stops at 1 am.
An early and frequent performer at the Broken Drum in 1966 was folklorist Maury Bernstein.
Thanks to Alan Slacter, researcher extraordinaire, we have a photo of the Broken Drum – note broken drum in the window!
The Bronco Bar was in Chanhassen.
“Bulletin: Frontier in Chanhassen Announces the Opening of the Bronco Bar and Frontier Wines and Spirits (Package Store) For Your Convenience and Pleasure. MORE TO COME. Just the Beginning of a Great New Complex. Open July 19, 1968.” (Ad in Minnetonka Sun) In the mid-’70s we would endure the country band and then dance our asses off to the rock they played during the intermissions.
Highway 13, Prior Lake. In August 1969 the bands featured included Gary Kent, Guy DeLeo, Lexie Johnson and Buddy White.
There appear to have been a lot of Brown Derbies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, not to mention the ones in New York and Hollywood. And Austin and South Dakota and Fargo.
340 MAIN AVE., ST PAUL
The ad below, and a mention of a Brown Derby Night Club in St. Paul in October 1932, are the only hints of this site. 1932 and 1932 were during Prohibition, so presumably no liquor was served. Keep in mind that I have no access to the St. Paul newspapers.
BROWN DERBY FOOD SHOP, MINNEAPOLIS
In December 1935 there was a Brown Derby Food Shop, where poor Phoebe Leonard ordered her breakfast and then dropped dead. That one was located at 918 Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis.
BROWN DERBY CAFE
This Brown Derby Cafe was located at 50th and France, right next to the Edina Theater.
This location, at 3915 W. 50th Street, was originally called Bill and Earl’s Brown Derby Cafe in 1936. It soon changed to Bill and Lee’s Brown Derby when Bill Olson bought out Earl Oxboro. Bill and his wife ran it until 1957. (Minneapolis Tribune, November 15, 1980)
In January 1942, a slot machine there was listed as belonging to proprietor William A. Olson. In 1943, Olson was fined $25 for serving part Oleomargarine without notifying his customers that it wasn’t all butter. In April 1943, Olson was fined $75 for maintaining a nuisance after sheriffs picked up a slot machine at his place. In December 1947, the Tavern Inspector arrested Olson for selling beer to a minor for the third time that month. He called it “a regular hangout for minors.” Olson was fined $50. Ads continued until September 1960.
Obituaries appeared for Kermit S. Dahm, who died October 30, 1960, and Olson, who died January 15, 1961, both listed as the owners of the Brown Derby.
The Edina location continued into the sixties. One Will Jones article mentioned old bands like Frank and Milt Britton’s Brown Derby Band (December 23, 1964).
The fixtures of the 50th and France Brown Derby were auctioned off on December 29th, 1966.
A second (or new) Brown Derby Bar was located at 1603 Chicago Ave. So. in Minneapolis, as evidenced by the report of a fire in the building at 12:15 am March 25, 1965. The blaze caused about $5,000 in damage and outed about 30 customers. There were four apartments in the rear of the building. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune) In August 1965, Rudolph Nassif was identified as the owner of the Brown Derby Bar.
ST. PAUL – 567 STRYKER
Another Brown Derby was located at 567 Stryker Ave. on the West Side of St. Paul (just south of George Street). A realtor page says that the building dates to 1900.
CURLY’S DUTCH ROOM TAVERN
In 1942 to at least 1956, the location on Stryker was Curly (Moren’s) Dutch Room Tavern.
THE BROWN DERBY
Here are some of what I call Facebook Facts; thanks, folks!
Joe Bonasera was a bartender there too, says his niece.
Rich Thomas bought it in about 1963.
On December 3, 1967 the bar on Stryker advertised that it was remodeling, and wanted to sell its 44 ft. bar and backbar, 18 booths, 9 sets of tables and chairs, and coatracks. (Minneapolis Tribune).
By December 1968 it was the Brown Derby Lounge, as evidence by the report of a foiled robbery attempt. (Minneapolis Star, December 23, 1968)
The matchbook below indicates that the owners were Don Orth and Ken Anderson. Anyone related to these guys?
Back in the ’60s there was live music on Friday and Saturday nights. “ Igor and his band used to come in with accordion music and got lots of people dancing!!” Love it!
In February and April, 1986, St. Paul vice officers observed several Brown Derby patrons received cash payoffs from the bartender after accumulating points on video poker games. The video games were legal, but receiving money from playing the games were not. Illegal gambling was found in a raid in September 1986. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune, November 6, 1986) Louis Wenner, who ran the business from an apartment, pleaded guilty. (June 9, 1987) In September 1987 the St. Paul City Council voted to suspend the bar’s liquor license for two days or fine the owners [listed as Thomas Enterprises Inc.] $200 for conducting illegal gambling in the business. As reported by Minneapolis Star and Tribune writer Chris Ison on September 24, 1987.
In 1992, John Bream described it as a hard-to-find neighborhood bar; music was a regular feature.
In the early morning of January 1, 2000, a fight broke out among friends at the Brown Derby. They moved to a New Year’s party on Wyoming Street, and one of the men came back and shot into the crowd at the party. Four men, including the suspect, were treated for bullet wounds.
It was still going in 2003.
It is no longer in business, replaced by a tobacco shop.
The Buckhorn Cafe was located at some unspecified location on Highway 12 in Long Lake. Judging from the ad below from 1947, I thought for sure there must have been some music – some cowboy music? [This is not to be confused with the Buckhorn Tavern at 2701 E. 25th Street, or the Buckhorn Inn between Stillwater and Hudson, which sounds like it was a lot more fun.]
As it was located out of town, the Buckhorn was forced to close for the duration of World War II. Staff and customers were away at war or unable to get gas, tires, etc. for their cars. It reopened in November 1945.
So I looked and looked and looked but it turns out that it was “just” a restaurant and a four-lane bowling alley. From one source it computes that it was started in 1931 by Clifford “Kipp” Hale and silent partner Garnet Hale. Kipp had many collections, including animal heads, horns, mounted animals, and antique guns. And in this atmosphere is where you ate your “Chicken in the Rough,” an innovation that sounds like just fried chicken you eat with your hands.
BUFFALO HUNTS IN LONG LAKE
Kipp also collected buffaloes – real buffaloes – that had a habit of getting loose from their pens, in which case they were shot and eaten. Poor Hattie. In a 1952 column, George Grimm described this phenomenon:
Most folks know Long Lake because of three buffalo in back of Hap Hale’s Buckhorn Restaurant and recreation center. Two winters ago the buffalo decided to skip the fences and took off. People kept opening garage doors to find a buffalo inside. One train was raced by one of the critters (the train lost), and a national magazine took up Long Lake’s buffalo hunt story. The trio finally was corralled again.
Corralling the beasts was done by hired cowboys on horseback, with the entire town watching. It is unclear whether he brought in the buffaloes for publicity or for the meat, or both.
THE BUCKHORN CLUB
Kipp wanted to retire and advertised the place for sale in 1961. He kept his collections in the building, however.
On March 18, 1972, the Buckhorn Cafe burned to the ground, destroying his collection of 75 guns. The fire took the departments of Long Lake, Maple Plain, Wayzata, and Mound four hours to put out.
Within two weeks, the owner, Charles L. “Buck” Kramer, reopened the Buckhorn in a new location. The former tractor and farm implement shop at 2365 W. Wayzata Blvd. was ready in record time. Kramer changed the name to the Buckhorn Club, and installed a rock band (aha!), lingerie show, and topless dancers. By June 1974 the IRS was after him for underwithholding workers’ taxes, and in September 1975 he sold it to Gil and Patricia Carmichael.
The last we see of the Buckhorn Club is in 1977 when the City Council of Long Lake got tired of the nudity and the bad reputation it was giving the city, so it was considering cracking down on them.
The Bull Pen was one of the best-remembered venues in Hopkins’ Opera Hall, located at 814-16 Mainstreet, Hopkins. The original address was Excelsior Ave., before the realignment of Excelsior Ave. when Highway 169 came through.
This page will cover the various entertainment venues that have come and gone in the building, including:
- The Opera Hall, aka Olson’s Hall
- (Sheehan’s) 908 Club
- The Bull Pen
- The Opera Hall Saloon
- The Mainstreet Bar and Grill
The building had two storefronts, East and West, and a large hall on the second floor that was rented out for events. The hall was used extensively by the community, as it was the largest in Hopkins.
There is some conflicting information about the origins of the building. The county’s tax database says that it was built in 1900, and there is plenty of evidence that it was once known as Olson’s Hall. This leads me to believe that it was built, or at least financed, by Hilmer Olson. [There was another, older, Olson’s Hall, located at 1209 Washington Ave. So. in Minneapolis, that went back to at least 1880.]
Olson was a wealthy farmer, and for 22 years he was a banker at the First National Bank of Hopkins. He was born in about 1863, and in 1931 he lived at 904 1/2 Excelsior Ave. In August 1939 he and his wife were in a car/truck accident – he was driving the car. His wife, age 63, died as a result of her injuries. He remarried before his death in August 1946 at the age of 83.
Nothing comes up under Olson Opera Hall; there were only a couple of hits under Hopkins Opera Hall. It was mostly called Olson’s Hall from 1900 to 1940.
ALBERT F. ANDERSON?
But an article in the Star and Tribune, apparently based on information from the Hopkins Historical Society, dates the building to 1904 or 1904, and says it was built by Albert F. Anderson. A search through the Strib archives reveals that Anderson applied for a liquor license for both storefronts in the building on block 4, lot 1, for the period between April 1, 1898, and March 31, 1899. He made the same request for the time period from April 1, 1899 to March 31, 1900, but this time only for the West Room. He is mentioned in 1905 when a bartender accused Anderson of giving him a beating for being late in opening his saloon.
Problems include the fact that the Hall sits on Block 4, Lot 3 – Lot 1 is on the western corner of the block. That building is listed as being built in 1902 in the County’s database. Perhaps more research is needed in the Hopkins papers.
ACTIVITIES IN THE HALL
The Opera Hall was used for dances and recitals, sponsored by different groups. The first activity we see in the Strib archives at the Olson Opera Hall is in September 1902, which is a political meeting.
THE ODD FELLOWS PARTY
Shortly after that, in 1903, was a rip-roaring Odd Fellows Carnival – actually the overflow from the new IOOF Temple that was across the street. The carnival went on for days, with each day sponsored by a different Lodge of Odd Fellows from Minneapolis. On September 29, 1903, for example, the North Star lodge descended on Hopkins, “accompanied by Coon’s orchestra.” Members entertained the crowd with routines “in the arts of black-face minstrelsy.” One man’s monologue on milk sent the audience into “paroxysms of laughter.” Coon songs, routines in black face, and minstrel shows were still much in vogue in 1903. The Odd Fellows from Minneapolis might have actually seen a black person; although the City was very segregated, the few black men and women living in town could generally find employment as Pullman porters, hotels workers, and other low-level jobs. Whether people living in Hopkins had ever seen black people is something to wonder.
The following night was sponsored by the Flour City Lodge, with decidedly more sedate entertainment featuring a Masonic quartet, violinists, a “facial and musical artist,” and a humorist and impersonator who “will make fun.” Despite these hilarious hijinks, there was no rowdyism, and “no trouble, no fakirs, no grafters,” reported the Deputy Marshall.
Thursday was Ladies’ Night, presented by 25 of the ladies of the Iola Rebekah Lodge No. 35, who tended to be “more or less literary and musical, with vocal and instrumental solos, recitations, tableaux, etc.” Sounds like those ladies in the “Music Man:” “Ode to a Grecian Urn.”
One of the most unique exhibits seen at the carnival is a monster cigar manufactured by J.Y. Kern of Hopkins. The immense “smoke” is eight feet in length, eight inches in diameter and weighs twenty-five pounds. It is named “The Dr. Moore Cigar,” in honor of a local physician.
May 1906: Sorenson and Wallace Bakery (Hopkins News, per HHS)
In 1909, wrestling was a draw, continuing until at least 1912. (Strib)
In 1911 the building was sold to Charles Shonka, who ran a beer parlor, then liquor bar. (816)
1915 – 1933: The upstairs was the home of the Sokol Society, a gymnastics group made of people of Czech heritage. (HHS)
1920 – 1937: Shonka’s Cafe (816)
STAG PARTY RAID!
On May 1, 1932, nearly 500 men, allegedly identified as the Minnesota Chauffeurs’ Club from Minneapolis, attended a stag party at Olson’s Hall, paying $1 each to enjoy five girl dancers doing “a series of butterfly dances, difficult to describe in mere words.” Unfortunately, a dozen deputies rose in their seats and announced the place was raided. Someone turned out the lights and there was a mad dash for the door; two of the deputies were injured in the melee. The girls were jailed, plead guilty, and were ordered to pay $50 or spend 60 days in the county jail on charges of indecent exposure. Four men were charged as alleged producers and drew similar sentences. (Minneapolis Star, May 5, 1932)
At trial, the questions and answers were a bit difficult to answer:
“What were the girls wearing?” Justice Meeker asked Deputy Oscar Thompson.
“Well,” gulped Thompson, “they seemed to have on shoes and stockings.
“Something gossamer that shed in layers.”
“Was it artistic?”
“I’ll tell the world it was.”
October 1937: Hopkins Variety Store (814)
September 1947 – 1961: Hopkins Alleys (816)
April 1951: C.J. Sommers Variety Store (814)
May 1955: Swanels Surprise Shop (814)
SHEEHAN’S 908 COCKTAIL LOUNGE
November 1955: Sheehan’s Bar (816)
In November 1958 there was a fire at Sheehan’s bar. The owners were identified as James, Thomas, and John Sheehan. The building held a bar, liquor store, and bowling alley, which had been there since at least 1947.
On December 14, 1959, a dram shop lawsuit identified the owner of Sheehan’s as Lee G. Zrust.
After these troubles, Sheehan’s apparently became just The 908 Bar, described as a workingman’s bar with no entertainment.
THE BULL PEN
In about February 1959, the Bull Pen took up residence in the 814 side of the building. It was opened by Harry Blons as a venue for his jazz band.
The Bull Pen hosted other types of music as well, including jazz and country.
In 1961 the building was purchased by Virgil Miller, Dick Strachota, and Don Nickodym.
1963-64: Big Daddy and the Misfits played there for at least a year.
BULL PEN A GO-GO
In 1967, the Bull Pen took a turn toward loud music and G0-G0 dancing, even though the Go-Go fad was kind of a 1965 phenomenon. But the Bull Pen took it further, providing 15 years of nude dancing – the only bar in town to do so.
It appeared to start innocently enough. In one of his typically hilarious columns, Jim Klobuchar focused mostly on the noise generated at the bar, going so far as to bring a decibel meter to compare the cacophony to other known noise nuisances. He was blown away:
You may have heard noise in your life but you have never been so completely blasted, stretched, and flattened until you have spent a couple of hours in the Bull Pen Bar on a Friday night.
That was just the band. The Go-Go dancer was a “spectacular blonde named Cheri Rexroth, thrashing a go-go on a tiny platform.” Cheri was born in the Twin Cities, learned her craft in Chicago, returned with her “acrobatic culture. Tonight she is wearing tangerine tights and frequent expressions of anguish.”
Virg Miller explained that “We could advertise more, but we’d bring in the riffraff. We like to have them come reasonably well dressed and so we try to keep out the hairy-chested, open-shirt characters…”
A 1968 ad from the Minnetonka Sun said the Bull Pen was owned by Virgil Miller, the band was the Professionals, and “Sheri” provided the “very best in GO GO.”
Eventually the go-go dancing drifted to nude dancing, and stayed that way until 1982.
OPERA HALL SALOON
The Bull Pen had to go. After 15 years of nude dancing, in 1981 Hopkins enacted an ordinance that outlawed such activity in bars. The ordinance was based on a St. Paul ordinance – Hopkins just scratched out the name St. Paul and substituted Hopkins. The Chief of Police couldn’t see the dancing go fast enough, noting that most of the customers were men, most were not from Hopkins, and they were more rowdy and boisterous” than those at other bars. In February 1980, a customer shot a bouncer through the neck.
In February 1982, the owners closed the bar and began a renovation that would cost them about$258,000. $78,000 of that amount came from a low-interest loan provided by the City to fix up Mainstreet buildings.
Work included removing coverings from floors, ceilings and walls, exposing the old tin ceilings and brick walls. Arches were cut into the brick inner wall, connecting the Bull Pen and the 908 Bar. The 908 Bar stayed open for all but one month of the six-month construction period. The dance floor and bandstand were on the Bull Pen side.
The Grand Opening of what was called the Opera Hall Saloon was August 10 through 15, 1982. The music changed to Country, Country Rock, and ’50s.
MAINSTREET BAR AND GRILL
This new business first advertised for staff in October 1988. It is still there!
The Bungalow Bar was located at 6221 – 56th Ave. No. in Crystal.
It goes back to at least September 1951.
From 1967 to 1969 they featured a nightly organist and a weekend piano lounge.
The Burnsville Bowl was at 1200 E. Highway 13 in Burnsville – the northeast corner of Highway 13 and Minnegasco Road, as it was described when it was built in 1967. It was developed by the owners of the Maplewood Bowl. Original plans called for 24 lanes, a bar, restaurant, and a nursery.
El Matador Lounge: April 1967 to September 1970
1970: vocal group upstairs and “acid rock” downstairs.
In 1972 the El Matador Lounge was managed by Milton Olsen.
In December 1972 there was a room called J.T.’s, but that didn’t seem to last long.
EL TIGRE LOUNGE
In April 1973 the El Tigre Lounge featured Bea Bea Benson, “Miss Showmanship;” pianist, songstress, and risque comedienne.
OBSCENITY IN BURNSVILLE
In May 1974, Mayor Alfred Hall, a Mormon bishop, sought to get rid of the go-go dancers and lingerie shows at the cocktail lounge, calling it a “tide of filth.” Under the threat of losing its liquor license, owner Milton Olsen voluntarily discontinued the shows. The issue spread to an all-out obscenity campaign by the Mayor, who proceeded to draft the filthiest ordinance imaginable. The City Council passed the ordinance, and Olsen said he would lose $100,000 in business as a result.
An article in the Minneapolis Star called the Bowl a “cowboy-biker-bowler bar complex” with a “blue collar mellow” ambiance. It had a “crazy mix of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ heavily tempered with ‘Urban Cowboy.'” The article described the five “play areas” at the Bowl. (August 22, 1980)
The Playpen was the only area that had a cover charge, which was usually $1.50, more for special events. In 1979 the Playpen hosted Minneapolis’s answer to Elvis. Country rock was the music of the day in 1980, and the dance floor was described as tiny.
This was a quiet lounge with “live mood music” and snacks. It was “decorated in in red felt walls and black velveteen couches in old-time bawdyhouse style.”
THE SPARE ROOM
Spare, bowling, get it? This was a “quiet bowlers’ bar with a TV, adjoining the 24-lane bowling alley and a hall stuffed with shuffleboard courts and pool tables.”
THE SNOOPY ROOM
Also known as the Nursery, this was still being used as a nursery during the day. By night it was a “quiet one-table pool room for those who value concentration.”
In 1977 the Silver Sliver was a disco in the basement. Here is a review by the Minneapolis Tribune (November 4, 1977):
Getting there is half the fun, since the only way to enter is down the Silver Sliver, a circular slide that makes 1 1/2 revolutions on your way down. (You have to use the more-mundane stairs to get out.) Dancers select their own records on a juke box. Small dance floor.
In 1980 the article said it was a place “where young men in vests and cowboy hats with folding Buck knives strapped to their belts boogie on the small stainless-steel dance floor.”
Another article described the clientele as “the most un-disco-looking dancers you’ve ever seen grinding around on a small steel floor.” Also, “The mellowness is enforced by leather-vested heavies.” (Star, October 17, 1980)
In December 1983 the owner was Deleano Benjamin.
In August 1992, Jungle Bungee set up a crane in the parking lot and participated in the bungee jumping fad. The first jump was $55, the second $25.
HOT SHOTS BAR
The Hot Shots Bar was around in April 1995
In 2007 you had the 12th Avenue Lounge and the 1200 Club.
The Burnsville Bowl building was sold and shuttered in 2010.
17 – 8th Ave. So., Hopkins. 1969: Dancing to the Sociables. 1970: Live music and entertainment (and art) in the Gallery Room; vocalize and fraternize in the tuneful Blue Note piano lounge. Still there in 1974. A 2001 article says that it “had given way to McThirsty’s.”
From 1960 ad in St. Louis Park Dispatch
111 So. 6th Street in Minneapolis, was described as a popular place for “young swingers” in 1965.
383 Michigan Street, St. Paul: The historic Česko-Slovanský Podporující Spolek (C.S.P.S.) Hall has been the home of Czech and Slovak Sokol Minnesota (Sokol MN) since 1879, and the focal point for its activities in St. Paul since the current building was built in 1887. It was declared a National and State Historic Site in 1977, placed on the National Register of Historic Sites, and is the longest serving Czech-Slovak cultural center in the United States, and oldest theater and national hall in the State of Minnesota. The building is still active and available for rental!
This venue was located at 770 E. Seventh Street (at Eichenwald) in St. Paul.
In April 1906 the Dayton’s Bluff Commercial Club moved into what had been the Mayhall residence. It was described as “an imposing brick and stone mansion.” (Minneapolis Journal, April 5, 1906)
According to an article by Steve Trimble at St. Paul Historical, over the years the Commercial Club expanded the building to include a bowling alley, private dining rooms, a men’s smoking room, a billiard area, and a banquet hall and dance floor.
References to the club in the Minneapolis papers lasted into the 1950s.
Bob Mecay opened this venue in the spring of 1968: “Newest and Largest Sports and Entertainment Spot in the Midwest.”
On discount night, Musicians got 50 cents off the admission price.
It was ages 18+ on Fridays in January 1969 and offered ice skating on an indoor ice rink.
Bob Mecay changed the name of the Cabaret to The Bank in 1969.
WORM CITY U.S.A.
In a surprising turn of events (see what I did there?), in February 1978, the building (or at least part of it) became the site of Worm City U.S.A., a worm farm owned by Bob Amos of St. Paul. Apparently a couple of get-rich-quick worm dealers had hit town, promising people that they could start worm farms with a modest investment and make lots of money selling their worms for bait and such. The state was shutting the shysters down, but not before one of them, “Wormworld,” sold a package deal to Mr. Amos in the fall of 1977. Amos had started growing his worms in the basements of a couple of homes before he moved his operation into “an old lodge hall.” By April 1978 he had 220 wooden crates containing about 4 million worms.
The Minneapolis Star reported that “Amos has yet to sell a worm, but he said he has been concentrating on building up his stock. Amos said he will package 1,000 worms in each bag and he will advertise on radio to try to sell them to home gardeners.” (April 13, 1978)
THE BUILDING TODAY
As of 2020, the building is the home of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church. John Kass notes that much of the exterior entrance and overhang was removed to accommodate widening of 7th Street.
The Cabooze is located at 917 Cedar Ave. on the West Bank.
John Hanson talks about the mural he painted for the Joint and the Cabooze:
On this day, 42 years ago – August 10th, 1974, I completed my first job for the soon-to-be open Cabooze Bar…their inaugural week…in July while sitting in The Joint Beer Garden, I was enjoying a frosty Grain Belt Premium with my friend Dennis Brown…I remarked to Charlie “Woodchuck” Campbell (Booking Manager for the new club) that the bare walls begged for “something”…”come up with something” he said…so I did…resulting in this…assisted in painting by Brian Ringham (shown here painting my shirt)…the opening act that week was a rag-tag traveling troupe of marauding Vaudevillians and hooligan Hippies known as “The Friends Roadshow”…some 2-dozen rather mad artists who regaled us with a blend of mirth, magic & mayhem…”a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants!”…beginning then, what has gone on to become a true Twin Cities legend (and The World!), Lo, these many years…with no end in sight…thus began also, the jumpstart I needed for my brand-new one-man-shop graphic design biz: “Mill City Miracle Graphics”…(If it’s A Good Graphic, It’s A MIRACLE!)…having done hundreds of pieces for both The Cabooze & The Joint over the decades, I have nothing but gratitude for Jimmy Brown, Charlie Campbell, Rollie Olson, Taco and all the Staffers and friends there that have allowed me to shine and enjoy perhaps my most Leviticously Deuteronomous good times on Planet Earth…thanks, kids… but sadly, one day this was painted over …replaced by someone with characters from the comic strip “Peanuts”…Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy…alas now, lost to the pages of History…except here…”mighty oaks from little acorns grow”…
320-322 Cedar Ave. So. is an apartment building (or series of buildings) built in 1901. It was the home of music venues including:
- The (New) Holland Cafe
- The Unicorn
An August 1959 rundown of dining venues published by Will Jones in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune describes Stefano’s as the “original home of Minneapolis’ would-beatniks. Assorted jazz Friday and Saturday nights. Art exhibits. pizza, sspaghetti. Open 5 pm to 3 am. The address given is 316 Cedar Ave.
THE NEW HOLLAND CAFE
The Holland Cafe goes back to at least May 1926. In April 1936 the liquor license was owned by Morris Track.
In the wantads under “Let’s See the Town” are items for Frehe’s New Holland Cafe, starting in April 1950. A Grand Opening was noted on May 8, 1950.
An item dated January 1957 names Richard Ersbo as the holder of a liquor license here.
And in December 1957 an ad says that the Holland was open again. It was still the Holland in February 1962.
The next owner, Dave Lee, was quoted by Will Jones as saying “It was a skid-row place and a homosexual hangout. I had to do something drastic to change the image or lose a lot of money.” Jones said that Lee “discouraged the rowdyism and the eyescratching of the old clientele.” I don’t know what that means either.
Is this the same New Holland Bar that, in 1963, featured Caribbean and Latin music, with Bill “Boss” Gordon and his LaBombas. “Come see and learn the new dance craze – Limbo”
On October 2, 1965, the Lees turned back room of Caesar’s into the Unicorn. It had a separate address of 321 – 16th Ave. So. It was decorated as an English pub, with beamed ceilings, dart boards, a reading rack, and a separate bar. Plans were also to serve fish and chips and sandwiches. (Will Jones, July 18, 1965)
602 Lyndale Ave. No. Advertised as “Something Different” in September 1938, with “Chinese Foods and Good Entertainment.” Also see Club Delissa.
1329 So. Fourth Street, Minneapolis. Opened September 17, 1939, owned by Tommy and Harry Lewis. Opening night entertainment by Rook Ganz and His Entertainers. Chicken and Chinese Dishes their specialty – Come out and have a grand time.
The Cafe Expresso, at 2605 Hennepin Ave., was included as a coffeehouse/music venue in a 1967 newspaper list.
The Calhoun Ballroom was at Lyndale and Lake in 1944 – probably the same location as one or more entries here. The Red Pepper Orchestra provided a smooth dancing program that December.
Calhoun Beach Hotel, Minneapolis. Site of many University of Minnesota Greek dances.
The Camden Bank was located at 42nd Ave. No. and Lyndale Ave. No. in Minneapolis.
The Camden Bank building was built in two sections:
In 1910 the Odd Fellows Highland Lodge No. 99 purchased the block and built a two-story building facing 42nd Ave. No. as their IOOF Lodge. The address of this building 707 – 709 42nd Ave. No.
The building was designed by Septimus J. Bowler and constructed for $9,000 by Charles E. Hagstrom. In the beginning, the first floor of this building was used as an “undertaker’s parlor” and post office. The second floor was ballroom with an octagonal dome in the ceiling.
In 1920 the IOOF Lodge built a $40,000 three-story addition to the first building, facing Lyndale. The building replaced three frame stores that had been built in the 1890s.
The architect was Ernest C. Haley, and the builder was Charles J. Johnston. The original address of this building was 4169 – 4171 Lyndale Ave. No. The permit card described this as “bank and lodge hall.” The basement was originally used as a pool room and bar. The original plans call for the third floor to be used partly as a banquet hall with kitchen.
For years the two sections had two addresses, as listed above. They are, and always have been one building, in actuality, and have always had one owner. It now carries the address 705 42nd Ave. No.
My friend Richard Sigurdson provided some history of the bank and his grandfather:
The Camden Bank was organized on October 3, 1910, and was originally located on Washington Ave. In 1920 it moved to the new building on Lyndale and 42nd Street.
In 1910, Goodman G. Sigurdson, a native of Iceland, moved to Minneapolis in October 1910, and helped organize the Camden Park State Bank. He was the first head cashier when the bank opened. He served as president from 1922 until 1953, when he was appointed Chairman of the Board, position he held until his retirement in December, 1956. In 1955 the bank moved to 4141 North Lyndale. It was sold to Norwest Bancorp, which is now Wells Fargo.
The second floor of the 1910 building on 42nd Ave. No. was a ballroom, and in 1959 North High student Marsh Edelstein started to organize dances on Friday and Saturday nights. He wanted a place that was available to kids from North and Edison Highs, and its popularity spread to kids from other high schools to become one of the biggest Minneapolis hangouts.
Local bands were booked for the dances: the DelCounts, the Underbeats, the Accents, the Trashmen, Castaways, Avanties, etc. Rod Eaton of the Underbeats shares the flyer below and his memories of the venue:
Here’s a flyer for a dance at Camden. It’s just five by eight inches but it tells a big story. Sitting on the corner of 42nd and Lyndale Avenue North is a brick building. It’s a restaurant now I think. But the second floor was an open rental space – people held wedding receptions and parties there. When the teen dance craze hit in the early ’60s, a couple of enterprising young men saw the space as college tuition. They promoted dances there every Friday and Saturday. It was always just called Camden.
Bands should have been paid more to play there – the only access was up a long flight of stairs. It wasn’t a lot of fun getting all our amps and drums up those steps. I pitied any band with a Hammond B3.
But once you muscled the gear up Camden became a truly jumping place. For starters it drew big throngs of kids. Then there was the floor – it literally bounced up and down when kids danced. You could feel it. I played in continual fear that we’d find ourselves suddenly on the first floor. That fear turned to panic when we played “Foot Stompin.’” Dancers would jump on the floor to every beat of the drums – boom, boom, BOOM, BOOM! Dust billowed up, the walls shook, the floor trembled. They loved it – we generally had to play the song twice a night. This flyer exploits that: “Presenting the Stompin’ sounds of the Underbeats.”
In a way Camden was home to the Underbeats. That was our side of the city and we had a lot of friends in the neighborhood – it’s where we got our start. Camden may have been the reason we made “Foot Stompin’” our first record.
Some kids remember fights there, but Marsh says he had good security there. He moved his operation to the Marigold Ballroom in 1962 because the Bank was not big enough and he wanted to bring in national acts like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Anthony, etc.
In 1969 the building hosted a 181-seat theater to present live dramatic plays.
Throughout its life the Camden Bank building has housed a post office, pool hall, and professional offices. It is one of the only remaining buildings in the neighborhood, due to the construction of I-94, which the 1920 section faces, across Lyndale Ave. It is a welcome reminder of Old Camden, with its “I.O.O.F. No. 99” still engraved above the entrance of the 1910 section, and “Camden Park State Bank” still engraved above thee central main entry of the 1920 section.
520 Hennepin Ave. Illegal after-hours club, 1934-36, where jazz musicians would sit in after hours.
5300 W. 78th Street. This really was a medeval castle surrounded by a moat. Norwegian Hans Skalle opened Camelot in 1964, bringing French cuisine to the Twin Cities. Camelot was awarded the Holiday Magazine Certificate for Dining Distinction 1966, in less than a year of operation and again in each ensuing year. Continental cuisine, luncheons and dinner daily (closed Sundays/Holidays), buffet luncheons week days. Venues included:
- The Ale House
- The Jester Lounge (in the tower). 1967: Harmonica High Hats; 1970: good local and name entertainment
- Backdoor. 1973: The Fabulous Camelot Singers
- Great Hall. 1970: dancing on Saturday nights.
The Canterbury Inne and Pub was at 6481 University Ave. NE in Fridley.
Claims to be the first English decor pub in the country to offer authentic English pub music. In 1966, Maury Bernstein was providing the tunes while accompanying himself on an authentic pub-type squeeze box. (Minneapolis Tribune December 18, 1966).
The Inne was there until at least 1974.
There was a Capitol Tavern in St. Paul in 1949 that had music, but I have no location. Unfortunately I didn’t note the source of this factoid, but it probably came from Joined at the Hip.
Now we have a postcard of the Capitol Bar, located at Rice Street and University Ave., and I will post it here and guess that they may be one and the same. But no guarantees. St. Paul is the State Capitol, you know.
The Capp Towers Motor Hotel was located at 1313 Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis. This hotel cost $6.5 million, had 350 units, and opened in March 1963.
The Minneapolis Capp Towers had several music venues:
DOME AT THE TOP OF THE CAPP
Opened on March 1, 1963, this was a jazz and blues venue. Will Jones described the plan to have a low circular bar at the center, with the bartenders working in a kind of pit in order to give everybody a clear shot at the view in all directions. “A small musical combo will work in the center of the bar, and they will make their entrances and exits on a moving stage that will rise from and descend to the floor below for loading and unloading.”
The photo above appeared in Life Magazine on July 26, 1963 with the caption: “In the domed cocktail lounge on top of 15-story Capp Towers, motel guests can enjoy a view of Minneapolis skyline. A revolving stage in the center of the circular bar, here ornamented with a statue, can be raised or lowered. This downtown inn has accommodations for 800, an underground garage, three dining rooms, four bars, a rooftop pool enclosed in glass, exercise rooms and a sauna.”
From the looks of it, this was the Top of the Capp with a new name.
Will Jones said the room, basically a piano bar, “with its Roman arches and wild stained glass windows by Bill Saltzmann, looks like a monastery for swingers and you almost wish the drinks were served by jolly fat monks instead of regular bartenders in red jackets.” A 1963 ad cited “the atmosphere of an early French wine cellar.”
This was “a unique stag bar for men only, 11 am to 4:30 pm. Ladies welcome after 4:30 pm.”
CARIBBEAN ROOM AND POOL
Appearing nightly in July 1963 was Sir Lancelot, world’s finest calypso singer, Hollywood and television star.”
The hotel went through several subsequent iterations:
REGAL MINNEAPOLIS HOTEL
HOLIDAY INN CENTRAL
This was the place celebrities stayed. Music venues included:
1968: Riverboat Ramblers with Jane Riley and Pierre’s girls.
March 1969: Riverboat Ramblers featuring Holiday in Sun Valley and Louise Drake
June 1969: Holiday in Haight Ashbury – featuring songs from Hair.
1974: “Adult swinging singles every Friday night with the best big bands in the Twin City area.”
1969: Tommy O’Donnell Trio, featuring Jane Riley, vocalist
LITTLE FOXES LOUNGE
March 1969: Roy Thies, Flamenco guitarist
MILLENNIUM HOTEL MINNEAPOLIS
Last I checked it was still owned by the Capp family.
The Capp Towers in St. Paul was located at 77 – 9th St. E. at Minnesota.
It has eight stories and was built in 1959.
Race riots and curfews in Milwaukee brought the Monkees to Minneapolis a day early, so on Friday, August 4, 1967 [right after our own race riot], KDWB arranged for them to take over the airways on the afternoon before their concert at the St. Paul Auditorium. A remote was set up at their hotel, the Capp Towers Motor Hotel at 9th and Minnesota in St. Paul. Although the location was announced as “Secret City,” there was a crowd of screaming girls outside listening to their transistor radios.
There’s more about the Monkees in St Paul.
John Mannillo reports that
The owner of Capp Towers for many years was Earl Scott. His manager was George. I can’t remember his last name. I believe George now manages Hazeltine Golf Club. They were big hockey fans during the Fightin’ Saints era. Earl, better known as Scotty, owned an old fire truck which he gave rides on whenever he could.
This accounts for the restaurant called the Firehouse.
There was also a restaurant called Scottie’s.
John Mannillo again:
I was the real estate broker who represented the Union Gospel mission (I think in the late 1980s) on the purchase of the building from Earl Scott. They purchased this property which was mostly under utilized and in need of substantial repair, for the now Naomi Family Center.
The Naomi Family Residence, a residential program for women and women with children, provides food, clothing, 25 life skill classes, and Bible studies and is operated by the Union Gospel Mission.
Ramada Inn, 494 and France. 1973 featured the Johnny Ricco Show.
The Carioca Cantina was located at 124 State Street in St. Paul.
A previous building with that address was destroyed by fire in 1905. (St. Paul Globe, February 3, 1905) Lyfmap.com seems to indicate that the building was rebuilt in 1926.
The story of the Carioca Cantina comes right from Junior Trejo, the son of the owner and originator of the bar and restaurant. Thank you, Junior, for this wonderful account of your dad’s bar and the beginning of your own career!
The year was about 1960 and my father, Louis Trejo Sr,. was 27 when he bought his first business. It was a pool hall and bar and he called the “Carioca Cantina” which was located down in the west side which was known as the “West Side Flatts.” If any of you know St. Paul, it’s where the industrial park is now next to the Mississippi River.
I was seven years old when I started playing professionally on weekends at the bar, playing Tejano music with some of my uncles and the musicians my dad hired. I remember my mother and father bought me sticks, snare drum, and stand at about three going on four, and I remember I caught the snare on the stand and ripped the bottom skin. All my Uncles were musicians, including my dad who played trumpet, but got into a motorcycle accident and had to stop cuz he knocked out his front teeth. So that’s where the interest and the journey started was from my family.
Not sure who the kids are in the picture below, but if you zero in you can see the name of my dad’s bar on the front.
The picture below is “Pepe Carioca,” the parrot which was my dad’s logo for the bar, and check this out….instead of having signs painted on his 1956 Ford pickup truck he actually mounted them on to the doors.!!. You go dad!! My dad was really into advertising.
The pictures on the bottom are of me playing one night at the bar and it was so funny cuz grown ups would walk by my drum set and think how cute I was playing being so young and reach in their pockets and throw me some money! Most of the time I made more money than the musicians.
The color picture was enhanced by my friend Gabriel Rios.
Here’s a funny part of the story is that I was the fill-in drummer when they couldn’t find somebody but the musicians used to tell my father that they liked playing with me because I was pretty steady for being seven years old except every now and then they would laugh because they’d start playing mostly the last set and I wouldn’t be on the drum set because I would be too tired probably cuz it was midnight and just walk off and head towards the bar where my dad had made me a little bed underneath and go to sleep!
Wow!! Thank the Lord for watching over me on this crazy journey but let me tell you…..I’ve had a wonderful life so far and the best is yet to come. With many stories to tell and maybe one day I’ll take the time and write a book. I think it would it be called something like……”I was only seven when my dream became REALITY!!”
Well, it’s silly to include these little 1934 taverns that came and went after the end of Prohibition, but I think they’re fun. I only found three ads for this one – two had music by Eddie’s Little German Band, and the other was Art and His Dutch Boys.
But what’s this? Looks like Herr Carlson owned this and the High Hat, and they were both at Third and Hennepin. I’ll get to the High Hat presently.
This venue, active between 1979 and 1987, was totally off my radar, A) because it violates my 1974 cut-off date for this site, and B) I didn’t live in the ‘Cities in the ’80s. But there were some fabulous acts that performed there, so I’ll break my rule. There are way more than I expected, so this is still a very incomplete list.
The Carlton Celebrity Dinner Theater was located at 8350 24th Ave. So. It was built in 1961 as a venue for the National Bowling League, which was only active from 1961-1962. It was built with a terraced spectators’ section. Our Twin City Skippers competed in the League, before it went bankrupt in 1962. (Ken Anderson)
The building sat vacant for almost 18 years until it was finally repurposed by Carl G. Berndt, who had operated two other Carlton Inns in Wisconsin. He was the co-owner of this third one, possibly with Kenneth Olson, who was from a furniture store background and was in the real estate business.
The wedge-shaped auditorium held about 2,200 people: 1,270 in the terraced dinner level and 920 in the balcony. In addition to the main room, there was the Backstage Room, which featured up-and-coming acts, many of which went on to become stars. It has also been described as a disco and semi-private club. There was also the All-Star Lounge.
In 1983 the Carlton built a three-story addition to create a new Las Vegas Room and Marquee Room to facilitate banquets and meetings.
From 1983 to 1986, the Carlton was also the location of the Minnesota Music Awards.
SHOWS AT THE CARLTON
Please note that show dates are taken from ads and shows may have been postponed or cancelled.
- Mel Tillis, February 23 – March 3, 1979 – first act
- Rocco Ferrante Organ Concert, March 22, 1979
- Pat Boone with the Ben Arden Orchestra, March 23 – 31, 1979. Apparently the Ben Arden Orchestra was the new house Big Band and the Pat Boone show was the first time it was used. One member said that the performers would often leave the band members gifts, such as bottles of wine. Bob Newhart left them bottles of Dewars Scotch!
- David Brenner with Edna Lev, April 20 – 28, 1979
- Mills Brothers, May 4 – 12, 1979
- Freddie Fender, May 18 – 19, 1979
- Blood, Sweat and Tears, May 31 – June 2, 1979
- Connie Stevens, June 8 – 16, 1979
- Superpickers, June 17, 1979
- Kingston Trio, June 28 – 30, 1979 (Bob Shane was the only original member)
- Frank Gorshin, replacing Joan Rivers, July 13 – 21, 1979
- Jerry Lee Lewis, July 6 – 7, 1979
- Conway Twitty, July 27 – 28, 1979
- James Brown and the JB’s, Willie and the Bumblebees, July 29, 1979. People complained about the $2 cost to park. Brown showed up that Saturday at the Union Bar and played with the Lonnie Brooks Band.
- Lesley Uggams, August 3 – 11, 1979
- Rodney Dangerfield, August 17 – 24, 1979
- Bill Anderson, August 31 – September 1, 1979
- Faron Young, September 7 – 9, 1979
- Mills Brothers, September 14-20, 1979
- Lettermen, September 21 – 29, 1979
- Seals and Crofts, October 5 – 13, 1979
- Danny Thomas, replacing Joan Rivers, October 19 – 27, 1979
- Charley Pride, November 2 – 3, 1979
- Mel Tillis, November 9 – 18, 1979
- Ben Vereen, November 23 – 30, 1979
- Sandler and Young, November 30 – December 3, 1979
- Bobby Goldsboro, December 7 – 9, 1979
- James Darren with Fred Travelena, December 14 – 22, 1979
- Sandler and Young, December 28 – 31, 1979
- Lola Falana, January 11 – 19, 1980
- Loretta Lynn, January 25 – February 2, 1980
- Oak Ridge Boys, February 8 – 16, 1980: Drew 16,000 people
- Joan Rivers, February 22 – March 1, 1980
- Robert Goulet and Marty Allen, March 4 – 9, 1980
- Charo, March 11 – 16, 1980
- Rodney Dangerfield, March 21 – 29, 1980
- Eddie Rabbit, Dottie West, April 8 – 13, 1980
- Roy Clark, April 16 – 20, 1980
- Mills Brothers, April 22 – 30, 1980
- David Brenner, May 2 – 10, 1980
- Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band, May 15 – 18, 1980
- Pat Boone, May 22 – 25, 1980
- Ronnie Milsap, May 29 – June 1, 1980
- Kingston Trio, June 5 – 7, 1980
- Rich Little, June 13 – 18, 1980
- Bob Newhart, June 20 – 28, 1980
- Mac Davis, July 10 – 15, 1980
- Conway Twitty, July 23 – 26, 1980
- Frankie Laine and Patti Page, August 1 – 9, 1980
- Tina Turner and Fred Travelena, August 15 – 23, 1980
- Bob Hope, August 26 – 31, 1980
- Tom Jones, September 9 – 14, 1980
- Dom DeLuise, September 19, 20, 25-27, 1980
- Mills Brothers, October 3 – 11, 1980
- Mel Tillis, October 19, 1980: Benefit for the Twin Cities Diabetes Association raised $75,000
- Mel Tillis, October 20 – 26, 1980
- Lettermen, October 31 – November 8, 1980
- Charley Pride & Janie Fricke, November 12 – 16, 1980 [Don Williams]
- Mitzi Gaynor, November 21 – 29, 1980
- Oak Ridge Boys, December 2 – 13, 1980
- Sandler and Young, December 16 – 21, 1980
The Backstage Disco became the Backstage Lounge in 1980
- Whisper, May 1 – 4, 1980
- Ric Evans and the Reflections, May 6 – 11, 1980
- Muglestons, May 13 – 18, May 25, 1980
- Whisper, May 20 – 29, 1980
- Wright Bros., May 30 – June 7, 1980
- Italian 5 Plus 1, June 11 – 29, 1980
- Facts of Five, July 1 – 17, 1980
- Steve Miller & Diamondhead, July 18 – August 2, August 5-31, 1980
- Muglestons, August 26 – September 7, 1980
- Lloyd Owens, September 9 – September 21, 1980
- Betty Rydell, September 23 – October 5, 1980
- Memories, October 7 – October 19, 1980
- Colleagues, October 21 – 22, 1980
- Roger Williams and Robert Goulet, January 1 – 4, 1981
- Johnny Cash with Frankie Bush, January 7 – 10, 1981
- Engelbert Humperdinck cancelled
- Harry Chapin, January 13 – 14, 1981
- Sammy Davis, Jr., January 16 – 18, 1981
- Debbie Boone and Fred Travelena, January 23 – 31, 1981
- Roy Clark, February 6 – 14, 1981 [10 – 15]
- Bobby Vinton, February 20 – 21, 1981
- Loretta Lynn, February 27 and March 7, 1981
- Ben Vereen, March 13 – 21, 1981
- Stars of the Grand Ole Opry, March 24 – 29, 1981
- Lola Falana, March 31 – April 5, 1981
- Beatlemania, April 14 – 19, 1981
- Don Williams, April 22 – 25, 1981
- Don Rickles, April 19 – May 2, 1981
- Rich Little, May 5 – 10, 1981
- Rodney Dangerfield, May 21 and 22, 1981
- George Jones & Tammy Wynette, May 26 – 31, 1981
- Lou Rawls, June 2 – 6, 1981
- Captain & Tenille, June 25 – 27, 1981
The Celebrity Room was closed during the week of June 29, 1981, for construction of the three-story addition.
- Mel Tillis had been scheduled for July 3 – 4, but was rescheduled for December 17 – 18 due to delays in construction.
- Mac Davis, July 7 – 12, 1981
- Barbara Mandrell, July 16 – 17, 1981
- Mickey Gilley/Johnny Lee and the Urban Cowboy Band, July 18 – 19, 1981
- The Original Three Dog Night/Michael Johnson, July 23 – 25, 1981
- Tom Jones, July 28 – August 2, 1981
- Charlie Rich/Gail Davies, August 6 – 8, 1981
- Dinah Shore, August 11 – 15, 1981
- Roy Orbison, August 16, 1981 ONLY
- James Brown, August 19, 1981 ONLY
- Harry Chapin, August 21 – 22, 1981
- Oak Ridge Boys, August 25 – 30, 1981
- Bob Hope, September 1 – 6, 1981. September 1 was designated “An Evening With Hope” was a benefit for the Methodist Hospital Foundation. On September 6, Hope was presented in his dressing room with a plaque from the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS). At the time their National Secretary Master Sergeant Anthony Nathe.
- Tanya Tucker, September 10 – 12, 1981
- Conway Twitty/Lacy J. Dalton, September 16 – 19, 1981
- Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers Band, September 28 – October 3, 1981
- Suzanne Somers, October 6 – 10, 1981
- Dolly Parton, October 15 – 20, 1981
- Joan Rivers/David Brenner, October 21 – 25, 1981
- Stars of the Grand Ole Opry, October 27 – November 1, 1981
Pictured in the ad for the Stars of the Grand Ole Opry Show were:
- Bill Anderson
- Jimmy C. Newman & Cajun Country
- Jean Shepard & the Second Fiddles
- Del Wood
- Wilma Lee Cooper & the Clinch Mountain Clan
- Lonzo & Oscar
- The Tennessee Travelers with Melvin Sloan
- Carol Channing, November 3 – 7, 1981
- Maynard Ferguson, November 8, 1981
- George Carlin, November 10 – 11, 1981
- Marty Robbins, November 12 – 14, 1981
- T.G. Sheppard, November 20 – 21, 1981
- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, November 22 – 24, 1981
- Tony Bennett/Peggy Lee, November 27 – December 5, 1981
- Andy Williams, December 8, 1981 – Benefit for the Boys Club of Minneapolis – raised $83,000
- Andy Williams, December 9 – 13, 1981
- Mel Tillis and the Statesiders, December 17 – 19, 1981
When the Carlton opened, the Backstage was originally a disco, but it never really caught on, so in the winter of 1980/1981 it was remodeled into a 250 seat lounge to showcase Country acts. Jon Bream described it as a multi-tiered room tucked under the balcony of the Celebrity Room. The stage is on the top/third level, with a bar on the first level and tables and chairs on a lower level where dinner is served. It opened in January 1981. (Minneapolis Star, April 10, 1981)
The Backstage featured “Tuesday Nights Live” and remote spots on WDGY, then a Country station. “Beefeater” Shows were priced from $9.95, and “Nightcap” Shows started at $4.95.
- Helen Cornelius, January 13 – 18, 20 – 21, 1981
- Wright Brothers, January 22 – 24, 27 – 31, February 3 – 7, 1981
- Billy “Crash” Craddock, February 10 – 15, 1981
- Dave Rowland & Sugar, March 10 – 15, 17 – 22, 1981
- Alabama, March 23 – 28, 1981
- Jerry Lee Lewis, March 31 to April 5, 1981
- Thrasher Brothers, April 7 – 12, 14 – 19, 1981
- Soupy Sales, April 21 – May 2, 1981
- Louise Mandrell, May 5 – 9, 1981
- Bellamy Bros., May 12 – 17, 1981
- John Conlee, May 19 – 24, 1981
- The Treniers, May 26 – June 7, 1981
- The Kingston Trio, June 9 – 14, 1981
- Buddy Greco, June 16 – 21, 1981
- Four Aces, June 23 – 28, June 30 – July 5, 1981
- Wright Brothers, July 7 – 11, 14 – 18, and 21 – 25, 1981
- Baja Marimba Band, August 11 – 16, 18 – 22, and 25 – 26, 1981
- Tompall & the Glaser Brothers, October 27 – 31, 1981
- Jeanne Pruett, November 3 – 7, 10 – 14,1981
- Wright Brothers, November 17 – 21, 24 – 28, December 1 – 5, 1981
- Kenny Burrell, December 8 – 12, 1981
- Terri Gibbs, December 15 – 19, 1981
- Paul New & Steel City, December 29, 1981 – January 2, 1982
- The Association, December 31, 1981 to January 2, 1982
- Gladys Knight and the Pips, January 7 – 9, 1982 – First Twin Cities Appearance
- Johnny Cash, January 13 – 16, 1982
- Alan King, January 21 – 23, 1982
- Don Williams, February 18 – 21, 1982
- Sha-Na-Na, March 5 – 7, 1982 [4 – 6]
- The Rovers, March 18 – 20, 1982
- Tom Jones, March 23 – 28, 1982
- Loretta Lynn, March 31 – April 4, 1982
- Buddy Rich and His Band, April 21, 1982
- Frankie Avalon’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival with Bo Diddley, Freddie Cannon, and the Coasters, April 22-24, 1982
- Louise Mandrell, April 29 to May 1, 1982
- Johnny Mathis, May 11 – 16, 1982
- Rodney Dangerfield, May 21-22, 1982
- Engelbert Humperdinck, June 10 – 13, 1982
- Roy Orbison, June 18 – 20, 1982
- The Spinners, August 13 – 14, 1982
- Liberace, August 17 – 22, 1982
- Ray Price, August 27 – 28, 1982
- Roy Orbison, September 2 – 4, 1982
- Eddy Arnold, September 9 – 11, 1982
- Dolly Parton, September 15 – 18, 1982
- Englebert, September 22 – 26, 1982
- Merle Haggard, September 30 – October 2, 1982
- Don Rickles, October 7 – 10, 1982
- Lou Rawls & Marilyn McCoo, October 13 – 16, 1982
- Tony Orlando, October 28 – 30, 1982
- Roy Clark, November 4 – 6, 1982
- Gladys Knight & the Pips, November 11 – 13, 1982
- Bobby Vinton, November 18 – 20, 1982
- Chameleon, November 24, 1982
- Oak Ridge Boys, November 26 – 28, 1982
- Maynard Ferguson, November 29, 1982
- Rich Little, December 1 – 4, 1982
- Dionne Warwick, December 6 – 11, 1982
- The Kingston Trio, December 12 – 13, 1982
- George Jones, December 16 – 19, 1982
- Sandler & Young, December 29 – 31, 1982
Backstage Dinner Theater, 1982
- Paul New and Steel City, December 29, 1981 to January 2, 1982
- Calamity Jayne, January 5 – 9, 1982
Something called the Good Humor Snackbar had been added to the Backstage, featuring Don Taft and Friends. “Good Tunes, Good Times.” Sounds like a Piano Bar. The photo below is bad, but is that a monkey?
- Dolly Parton, January 5 – 8, 1983
- George Carlin, January 21 – 22, 1983
- Three Dog Night with special guest the Grass Roots, January 28 – 29, 1983
- Mickey Gilley and the Urban Cowboy Band, February 3 – 5, 1983
- Andy Williams, February 10 – 12, 1983
- Bill Cosby, February 18 – 19, 1983
- The Pointer Sisters, February 24 – 26, 1983
- Bob Hope, March 25 – 26, 1983. Anthony R. Nathe, SGM, US Army-Retired sent the photo below of the presentation of an 80th Birthday cake to Hope on stage (he turned 80 on May 29, 1983). The cake it was donated by Supermom’s Bakery. Pictured are Governor Perpich , Miss Minnesota, Nate (in the Military uniform), Rodger Brodin (Vietnam Statue Sculptor, standing behind Nathe), Dan Ojeda, Jr. in white jacket (Four Seasons Awards), and Bob Hope.
- The Gatlin Bros., March 31 – April 2, 1983
- John Davidson, April 10, 1983
- Loretta Lynn, April 21 – 24, 1983
- Johnny Cash, May 4 – 7, 1983
- Minnesota Music Awards, May 16, 1983
- Rodney Dangerfield, May 20-21, 1983. A witness says that Rodney was picking on Verne Gagne, who was in the audience.
- Don Williams, May 25 – 28, 1983
- Kool and the Gang, May 29, 1983
- Danny Thomas, June 9 – 11, 1983. June 9’s performance was a benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation.
- John Conlee, June 12, 1983
- Swedes in Town, June 15, 1983
- Conway Twitty, June 16 – 18, 1983
- Gladys Knight and the Pips, June 24 – 25, 1983
- Pure Prairie League, opened by Rue Nouveau, June 26, 1983. Gary Rue of Rue Nouveau remembered: “We went backstage to the lounge immediately after our set, and PPL’s manager came back and said: “I look at you guys, and I think “Flock of Seagulls.”
- Mac Davis, June 29 – July 2, 1983
- Melissa Manchester – July 5 -6, 1983
- Don Rickles, July 15 – 16, 1983
- BJ Thomas, July 19, 1983
- Ray Price, July 22 – 23, 1983
- Ronny Robbins, July 31, 1983
- Sha-Na-Na, August 5 – 6, 1983
- Merle Haggard, August 11 – 13, 1983
- Ronnie Milsap, August 14, 1983
- Laura Branigan, August 17, 1983
- Wayne Newton, August 22 – 28, 1983
- Johnny Mathis – Postponed
- Jerry Lee Lewis with Paul Revere and the Raiders, August 31 to September 3, 1983
- James Brown with Mary Wilson and the Supremes, September 8 – 10, 1983
- Helen Reddy, September 22, 1983
- Roy Orbison, September 23 and 24, 1983
- Smokey Robinson, September 27 and 28, 1983
- Roberta Flack, September 30 to October 1, 1983
- Johnny Mathis – Postponed
- Eddie Rabbit, October 6 – 7, 1983 (October 6 cancelled)
- Maynard Ferguson, October 8, 1983
- Ricky Skaggs and the Whites, October 14 and 15, 1983
- Charlie Daniels, October 17 and 18, 1983
- Charlie Pride, October 20 – 22, 1983
- Liberace, October 25 – 30, 1983. This year’s show featured Shani Wallis, Rick and Barbara, and Dancing Waters.
- The Commodores, November 3 – 5, 1983
- Andy Gibb, November 11 – 12, 1983
- Ronnie Milsap, November 13 – 14, 1983
- Lefty Frizzell and Dottie West, November 18 – 19, 1983
- Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter, November 25 – 26, 1983
- Phyllis Diller with Jerry Vale, December 1 – 4, 1983
- Oak Ridge Boys with Williams and Ree, December 7 – 11, 1983
- Tony Bennett with the Woody Herman Orchestra, December 13 – 18, 1983
- The Ink Spots, December 20 – 23, 1983
- Lee Greenwood with Terry Gibbs, December 28 to 30, 1983
- Marilyn Sellars and the Dick Whitbeck Orchestra, December 31, 1983
- Prince, May 16, 1983
- Crosswind, May 20 – 21, 1983
- Crosswind, June 16 – 18, 1983
- Crosswind, July 5 – 6, 15 – 16, 22 – 23, 30 – 31, 1983
- Crosswind, August 11 – 13, 17, 22 – 28, 31, 1983
- Crosswind, September 1 – 3, 9 – 11, 23 – 24, 27 – 28, 30, 1983
- Crosswind, October 1, 7 – 8, 14 – 15, 17 – 18, 20 – 22, 25 – 30, 1983
- Crosswind, November 4 – 5, 11 – 14, 18 – 19, 25 – 16, 30, 1983
- Crosswind, December 2 – 3, 7 – 11, 15 – 18, 1983
Thank you to Dale Schultz for the dates for Crosswind!
- Don Rickles, January 13 – 14, 1984
- Mickey Gilley, January 19 – 21, 1984
- Sammy Davis, Jr., January 27 – 29, 1984
- Jerry Jeff Walker, February 12, 1984
- Mel Tillis, February 24 – 25, 1984
- James Brown, February 26, 1984
- Blackstone (Magician), March 9 – 10, 1984
- Englebert, March 14 – 17, 1984
- John Conlee, April 1, 1984
- Leon Russell, April 29, 1984
- Eddie Rabbitt, May 18 – 19, 1984
- Minnesota Music Awards, May 21, 1984
- Johnny Mathis, May 23, 1984
- Don Williams, June 13 – 16, 1984
- Perry Como, June 19 – 24, 1984
- B.J. Thomas, June 25 – 26, 1984
- Hank Williams, Jr., June 28 – 29, 1984
- Roy Orbison, June 30, 1984
- Mills Brothers and Patti Page, July 11 – 14, 1984
- Crystal Gayle, July 19 – 21, 1984
- Ronny Robbins, July 22, 1984
- Little River Band, August 17-18, 1984
- Conway Twitty, September 6 – 8, 1984
- Bill Cosby, September 14 and 15, 1984
- Kool and the Gang, September 21 and 22, 1984
- Johnny Cash with Marty Stuart, September 26-29, 1984
- Roy Clark, November 9 – 10, 1984
- Sandler and Young, December 28 – 31, 1984
- Crosswind, January 6 – 7, 1984
- Wright Brothers, April 11 – 14, 1984
- Prince, May 21, 1984
- Janie Fricke and Exile, January 12 – 13, 1985
- Mac Davis, May 31 – June 2, 1985
- Johnny Mathis with Jeannine Burnier, June 5 – 9, 1985
- Rodney Dangerfield, June 12 – 15, 1985
- Tony Orlando, June 20 – 22, 1985
- Ricky Skaggs, June 28 – 30, 1985
- Ray Charles, July 3, 1985
- Donny & Marie Osmond, July 5 – 6, 1985
- Marshall Tucker Band – July 7, 1985
- Mickey Gilley, July 26 – 27, 1985
- Sammy Davis, Jr. with Suzette Charles, (1984 Miss America), August
- George Burns, September 10 – 15, 1985
- Minnesota Black Music Awards, September 26, 1985
- Mel Tillis and Reba McEntire, October 5 – 6, 1985
- B.J. Thomas and the Judds, October 8 – 9, 1985
- Charlie Pride, October 18-20, 1985
- Debbie Reynolds, October 23 – 26, 1985
- Eddie Rabbitt, November 1 -2, 1985
- Pearl Bailey with Louie Bellson, November 7 – 8, 1985
- Connie Francis, November 9 – 10, 1985
- Crystal Gayle, November 14 – 16, 1985
- The Temptations and the Four Tops, November 30 – December 1, 1985
- Johnny Cash with June Carter Cash, December 4 – 7, 1985
- Manhattan Transfer, December 17 – 22, 1985
- Oak Ridge Boys with Williams and Ree, December 10 – 15, 1985
- Three’s Comedy: Alex Cole, Joel Madison, Sid Youngers, with Tom Baumgartner, Tom Arnold, Mike Lewis, and Dean Johnson. Also appearing: Tom Arnold, Tom Baumgartner, Mike Lewis, and Dean Johnson – May 23 – June 1, 1985.
- All Pro Comedy Show, with Alex Cole, Joel Madison, Sid Youngers, and Susan Voss – June 6, 1985
- Paul Rodriguez, July 19 – 20, 1985
- Henny Youngman, August 9 – 10, 1985
- Jerry Lee Lewis, August 12, 1985
- John Waite, September 1985
- Roy Clark, January 10 – 11, 1986
- Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers, January 23 – 25, 1986
- Lee Greenwood, February 13 – 16, 1986
- Johnny Cash, May 1 – 3, 1986
- Minnesota Music Awards, May 20, 1986
- Tony Bennett, July 18 – 19, 1986
- The Monkees 20th Anniversary Show, with Gary Puckett, Herman’s Hermits, and the Grass Roots, August 20-22, 1986
- Prince, May 20, 1986
- Chuck Berry, January 1, 1987
- The Allman Brothers with the Dickey Betts Band, January 31, 1987
- Johnny Cash, April 1-4, 1987
- Arlo Guthrie, May 1, 1987
- David Brenner, May 2, 1987
- Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, May 8 – 9, 1987
- Wayne Newton, May 20 – 24, 1987
- Swinging Ambassadors 20th Anniversary Show, June 4, 1987
- Ray Charles, June 18, 1987
Other shows that folks remember include:
- The Mitzi Gaynor Review
- Jose Feliciano
- Spandau Ballet
The Carlton went bankrupt in 1986 and was razed for the Mall of America in 1987.
The Carlton was immortalized in the Coen Brothers film “Fargo,” when Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) brings a date to see José Feliciano. The scene was actually staged in the Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
Know any others or have any memories of the place? Contact me!
26 West Lake Street, Minneapolis. This venue was in an ad for a dance in 1923 in the Northwestern Bulletin. The site is now a Super Valu Store.
1830 E. Franklin at Cedar. February 1942: Ward Mitchell, proprietor (also owned Ward Mitchell’s Beer Tavern). Not sure the Casa-Loma had entertainment, but with that name it certainly should have!
The Casanova Cafe and Lounge was located at 43-45 So. Fourth Street (across from Maurice L. Rothschilds) on Newspaper Row, appropriate because it was a part of the Minneapolis Journal Building, apparently built in 1889. One half, number 45, was the bar, and one half was the cafe. Together they measured 44 ft. x 150 ft. and the building was three stories tall.
THE CASANOVA BAR
The Casanova Bar, at 45 S. Fourth Street, opened on May 11, 1940, according to an announcement in the Minneapolis Star.
The owners were Warren Kirk and “Bill” Corbett. Next door at 43 So. Fourth Street was Kirk’s Restaurant, “a Newspaper Row institution for the past twenty-five years,” which would bring it back to 1915. One mention said it started in half of a basement. Kirk was the first person in Minneapolis to apply for a 3.2 beer license on March 15, 1933 – beer became legal to sell on April 8, 1933.
The new Casanova bar featured a long bar and cozy booths,
where confidential matters may be discussed, as such matters should be, over the table. For those who like to sit out in the open to see and be seen, a long row of tables and comfortable chairs are available. Artistically decorated in a color scheme that soothes and relaxes, the New Casanova is bathed in soft lights, effecting an atmosphere in which the original Casanova himself would have been delighted to have been submerged. (Minneapolis Tribune, May 19, 1940)
The official Grand Opening was held on May 21 and 22, 1940. References to Kirk’s Restaurant disappeared after that, so they must have merged soon afterwards.
There were several small ads like the one below. This was the last one found.
Although no announcement was found, Thomas E. Ewing became the proprietor of the business and holder of the liquor license. Ewing operated as President of Casanova Bar, Inc. The gangster Tommy Banks was accused of owning the bar, which he couldn’t because of his criminal record, but Tommy did admit that he loaned $10,000 to Ewing for startup money.
Tommy Banks and Harry Shepard purchased the building on December 13, 1943, through attorney Simon Meshbesher.
The house specialty was “Chicken in the Rough,” served unjointed, with no silverware.
The Casanova had one of the most spectacular lighted signs in Downtown Minneapolis. The ad below boasted that the sign had 21 Transformers with 1,840 Bulbs and 1,540 feet of Fluorescent neon Tubing. According to permit cards, the lights went up in March of 1945.
THE BUILDING IS SOLD
On January 17, 1947, it was revealed that Tommy Banks and his wife Reta Banks sold the building to the B and S Co. for approximately $15,500. The quit claim deed was filed on December 15, 1946. According to the articles of incorporation filed in 1943, the incorporators of the B and S Co. were:
- Harry Shepard, Maryland Hotel, 1346 LaSalle Ave
- R.L. Banks, 1234 First National Bank, Soo Line Building
- Cera S. Meshbesher, 1234 First National Bank, Soo Line Building
Archie Cary, lawyer to the underworld, had his offices at 1234 First National Bank, Soo Line Building. (Minneapolis Tribune, January 18, 1947)
In 1948 the club had a “Blue Room.” Seating capacity was 400, and entertainment was available 4:30 to closing.
TOMMY EWING AND THE STREETCAR SCANDAL
In 1952, the City of Minneapolis had been persuaded to tear up its streetcar line and transition to buses. Those having stock in the streetcar company (TCRT) were under suspicion of underhanded dealing, and some went to prison. This is an oversimplified statement and if you want to know more, please read up on it. With Tommy Ewing, the owner of the Casanova, so tight with Tommy Banks, it is not surprising that Ewing owned 1,300 shares of stock in TCRT. (Minneapolis Tribune, January 15, 1952)
THE END OF THE CASANOVA
In the late 1950s, the City of Minneapolis had no interest in preserving places like Newspaper Row and its hodgepodge of 19th Century buildings. Wholesale demolition of problem areas seemed like a good idea at the time, and the Minneapolis Journal Building was slated to go. The City bought the building, and in September 1959, an ad was placed:
Wrecking building, must sell restaurant & bar equipment. 30 booths with formica top, tables, chairs, 2 bars, 4 walk-in coolers & compressors, kitchen equipment. 5-ton air conditioning equipment & many misc. items Open 1 to 5 Mon. thru Thurs, Sept 21-24, Casanova Cafe & Bar. (Minneapolis Star, September 18, 1959)
The photo below, taken from Fourth and Nicollet, shows the Casanova in the left-hand corner, looking boarded up.
The demolition permit for this building was taken out on June 11, 1962.
These are some venues located at 829 Hennepin Ave.
- The Gopher Cafe
- Cascade 9
- Duff’s second location
725-735 Hennepin Ave. was built in stages: a 120 x 70 brick store building was erected in 1908 for $10,000. An addition of the same size and approximate cost was built the same year.
THE GOPHER CAFE
Since 1935 this was the location of the Gopher Cafe, named after a previous location near the U of M Campus. (Apparently there were many different Gopher Cafes at the U, but this one was likely at 313-315 14th Ave. SE) It was owned by Jimmy Demos, a Greek immigrant. Classified ads were very specific, requesting Fountain Girls, Attractive Waitresses, Girls, Porters (must be “Colored”) and pastry chefs.
A representative from the contracting firm of Kraus-Anderson posted on Facebook that it did the remodeling work of this downtown landmark, a center of Minneapolis nightlife from the 1930s to the ’60s.
One reason for the Gopher’s centrality was its location: on the corner of 9th and Hennepin, it was in a theater district, the remnants of which can still be seen along Hennepin Avenue. Another thing about the Gopher Café was that it never closed. From 1935 to 1964, the Gopher was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with possible exceptions being made for the many renovations and expansions required to keep up with the its role as a mecca for nightclub and theater goers.
In 1950, Demos began to run ads disguised as comics. There was apparently a part of the restaurant called the Minnesota Room.
In August 1951, extensive remodeling was done to provide for a cocktail lounge. The permit card showed the cost to be $3,000.
In 1953, Kraus-Anderson did an astounding $10,000 in alterations to the building.
On May 2, 1958, the Gopher Cafe opened under new ownership, again by Greek immigrants. They were George Kosmas and his son-in-law, William Kordaris. Demos remained the owner of the building and remained in charge of the cocktail lounge. The Gopher was located outside the Liquor Patrol Limits.
The stock of the Gopher Cafe went up for sale on September 24, 1964.
After two years of redesigning the restaurant, Jimmy Demos reopened it as the Cascade 9 on November 24, 1964.
Where magazine provides an extensive background into the beginnings of the Cascade 9.
One hardly expects to open a restaurant door on Hennepin Ave. and find the re-creation of a Colorado silver mine. But that’s precisely what lies inside the heavy wooden door of the Cascade 9, an intriguing and very atmospheric restaurant. The decor within simulates a series of caverns below the earth and the dim lights, each one made of heavy hand-cut crystal in a combination of greens and ambers, enhance the effect. It is no wonder that the atmosphere seems so authentic, since the research and planning which culminated in the opening of the restaurant took over two years.
The inspiration for the Cascade 9 was the Kelsay Mines, made famous in 1900 by a tremendous mineral find. Seemingly the last word in authenticity is the pickaxe from the Kelsay Mines which bedecks the front entrance at Cascade 9. Authentic memorabilia and souvenirs abound – stalactites, a waterfall, intricate stone work and a piano bar top made from rocks hand-picked on Xanthi, an island in the Mediterranean, and artfully placed so as to allow the passage of light. (January 20, 1968)
Don Morrison’s description of the place was more lighthearted. He called the decor “sort of Contemporary Mineshaft with Lourdes Grotto overtones.”
Set into a couple of the craggy walls are niches trickling water and sprouting ferns. Handrails conducting one between the multi-leveled rooms are made of massive iron chains having five-inch links. A series of such heavy chains hanging from the ceiling provides a screen between two of the rooms. (Minneapolis Star, November 23, 1964)
An alcove at the Hennepin end contained the piano bar.
The Main cocktail lounge had a long bar, booths and tables.
To the rear is the rear was the room with the “flaming fountain, around the periphery of which are banquettes with Gothic-looking backrests that confer a vaguely ecclesiastical flavor.”
On the other side of the chain screen is the main dining room.
Two other large dining rooms were available for private parties.
So the name Cascade 9 came from the cascading waterfall, and the fact that it was on the corner of 9th Street. Uh huh!
A menu generously loaned by Scott Smith has these additional bits of information:
The pickaxe was one of the 76 used during 13 continuous days of hand digging to rescue 43 of the estimated 100 trapped miners and prospectors at the Kelsay cave-in in 1903.
The rocks used in the walls are porous volcanic stone gathered from the 4,000-foot elevation of Mount Jacumba. Souvenirs of the rocks were made available to customers.
The Water and Fire Lounge had a waterfall in the corner which converted to a fireplace in the winter.
Drinks included the “Lamp Lighter,” with secret ingredients served in a candle-shaped glass and a two per person maximum.
January 1965 saw the first mention of entertainment, which was the piano lounge. The first ad did not mention who was playing the piano.
Jazz musician Chuck Cochran was entertaining at the club in February 1966.
Select magazine began carrying the ad below in about September 1966, calling the place “An Adventure in Dining.” The same ad could be seen into January 1968.
Hugh Cardenas handled piano lounge duty, alternating with “Lorna,” in April and May 1967. The club was also offering a “dinner and a movie” special. Times must have been tough – by May 1967, Lorna was handling the piano bar by herself.
But in August 1967, Dick Clauson was brought on to provide organ music to double your pleasure in the piano bar.
On January 1, 1968, entertainment was provided by the Dixielanders, “playing music sweet and hot.” Members included Bob Benum on the drums, Doc Evans on clarinet, Harry Blons on trumpet, and Eddie Tolch on “piano and pipes.” (Where magazine, January 1968)
Frank Cammarata entertained in January 1969.
Harry Blons’ Band opened an engagement in March 1969. Don Morrison reported that a new dance floor and bandstand had been installed. Blons continued through the rest of the year.
Jimmy Demos retired and sold the restaurant in 1969, according to his obituary.
Harry Blons continued his engagement, playing Dixieland until about January.
On February 1, 1970, rock ‘n’ roll took over, with the XL-5.
The photo below is cropped from a larger picture that Mike Evangelist took standing in front of the M.L. Novak Jewler’s building at 930 Hennepin (later National Camera).
The XL-5 finished their year-long run in March 1971.
In August 1971, Don Morrison noted that to accommodate the nighttime crowds, the place has almost doubled in size.
The Del Counts were the house band from 1971 to 1972.
On March 23, 1972, Wayne Cochran and the 14-piece C.C. Riders appeared at 8 and 10 pm at the Cascade 9.
In 1972, the Cascade 9 published its own monthly magazine, Waterfall. Volume I, Number II was dated July 1972, but there’s no telling how many issues there were. Principals were:
- Editor: John Edmund Sharpe
- Associate Editors: Aubrey Chapin, Rhonda Cupcake
- Art Director: Dane A. Krogman
- Photography: William Keenan, Len Scuvver
- Sports Editor: Larry Bader
- Publisher: Jerry Agar
Although he doesn’t seem to be credited, Mike Barich provided all of the photos of the Rolling Stones concert that was reviewed in the July 1972 issue.
An article in the Minneapolis Tribune date November 27, 1972, named Jerry Agar as the owner of the Cascade 9.
On December 9, 1972, the Tribune named LaRae Agar as the owner.
In February 1973, owner LaRae Agar plead guilty to failure to withhold Social Security taxes for her employees at the Cascade 9 and another business. (Minneapolis Star, February 2, 1973)
June 1973: Teen King and the Princes
In September 1973, Jerry Agar was identified as the Manager.
A notice was posted in the Minneapolis Star on May 5, 1974, that the Cascade 9 was “Opening Soon,” under the management of Pete Demos. Another gave the re-opening date as October 4, 1974.
On November 23, 1975, classifieds started for staff for a new club. From at least April to November 1976, the club was transformed into Zachariah’s, the home of Becky and the Sky Blue Water Boys. Johnny Hanson recalls that his band the Radio Rangers played there for three months, but was fired for demanding to be paid! The club went out of business in November 1977.
A blurb on November 18, 1977, describes El-J’s as the Former Zachariah’s, and says there’s a house band, but doesn’t say what it was called. The Grand Opening was held on December 13, 1977.
When the original Duff’s burned down at its location at 21 So. 8th Street on December 24, 1978, owner Bob McNamara moved it to 829 Hennepin. He described the building as “a mess” and for six weeks he and 12 of his employees worked to paint and rehab the space in order to open it.
Duff’s opened here on March 1, 1979.
By all accounts, the new Duff’s was a man’s man’s Sports Bar in capital letters. It was also an Irish bar, with a Shamrock on the dance floor.
Owner Bob McNamara instituted several gimmicks, including “Topless Waiter Night,” a “Blitz Bus” shuttling U of M students to and from the bar, and Amateur Bartender and Waitress Night. (Minneapolis Star, November 23, 1979)
When it first opened, Monday was disco night, drawing students. Bands were brought in the rest of the week.
These are some of the bands I could find in calendars of events:
1979: Wind and Silver, First Flight, Areca, XL-5
1980: Areca, XL-5, Jules, Take Phive
1984: Jomama, Recessive Traits, Don’t Ask, Super Cats, Showdogs, Go Great Guns, Criminals, Johnny Rey and the Reaction, Tete Noires, the Babysitters.
Although I couldn’t find any ads for major concerts, Mike Qualley sent in these tickets showing that there were indeed some national performers:
Shawn Phillips performed at Duff’s on February 28, 1984.
Roger McGuinn performed at Duff’s on April 2, 1984.
In May 1985, classified ads began to appear for staff for Cloud 9, “a progressive, alternative lifestyle bar.” Nothing else pops up until January 31, 1986, when the bar is called the Cloud 9 Express in an article about crime against gay people. Jim Tiggas is identified as the owner of the bar. (Minneapolis Tribune)
In September 1986, the Cloud 9 was in the paper when a German tourist was robbed by a man in drag that he met at the bar. The Tribune made sure to describe the man’s attire as a white, knee-length dress and pink boots. (September 10, 1986)
A notice on August 17, 1987, shows that Cloud 9, Inc. at 829 Hennepin Ave. had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on August 7, 1987. James B. Tiggas was the President.
The building was sold in December 1987 and 829 Hennepin is no more. It has been replaced by LaSalle Plaza, 825 Hennepin at 9th Street, built in 1991.
Case Bar was located at Case and Arcade in St. Paul. This was one of the many places owned by the Montpetit family – in this case by Warren Montpetit.
Casey’s Saloon was in St. Paul in 1973, and made the news when it hired a male stripper named Romulus. Owner Glen Triviski felt women should have their fair share. On April 8 the St. Paul City Council ordered the club closed because the go-go-dancers were allegedly performing indecently. A new ordinance was passed allowing dancers to be “covered with transparent or opaque clothing.” Romulus, a/k/a Gary Watkins, was a 23-year-old med student working on a degree at Indiana State University. Although he had been touring the country, he sometimes forgot to unbutton his shirt. “And when that happens, he says, sometimes a button pops off.” (Randy Furst in the Minneapolis Star). ‘Spose there’s a Dr. Romulus out there somewhere?
This theater at 220 Washington Ave So. opened in 1892 and closed by the police in 1895.
This site was located at the Shorewood Plaza Shopping Center, a strip mall on Central Ave. in Fridley.
HULLABALOO TEEN SCENE – FRIDLEY
The first venue here was a Hullabaloo Teen Scene club, which opened here in early March, 1968. (There was another Hullabaloo Club in St. Louis Park.)
Denny Johnson of the Jokers Wild has contracts that show that the band played at a Hullaballoo Club in Minneapolis on March 30 and June 2, 1968. The contracts were signed by Mrs. Merle Kratoska, M & K Teen Clubs, Inc.
Merle’s son Paul: “My brother and I remember my mom driving us around to community colleges and putting fliers under car windshield wipers as advertising for the up coming weekend. It was located just north of Moore Lake in Fridley, just east of Hwy 65. It only lasted a year or two.”
JOKE’S ON THE JOKERS WILD
An “About People” column by Margaret Morris in the Strib dated March 27, 1968, described the Jokers Wild “sitting sheepishly under hair dryers at the Red Carpet” hair salon.
“Usually I wash my own hair,” said the tall, red-haired bearded spokesman in tight navy and white striped dungarees. “We’re just here because she said we had to.”
Dollars to doughnuts that was poor Lonnie Knight under the dryer. Here’s the rest of the article:
“I told them when I booked them that whey would have to do something their hair. It looked unkempt. Long hair is an asset in their business. But their locks needed design. They are not what you expect – not sissies. One attended Dunwoody Institute to learn construction of musical instruments and how to repair them. They are dedicated musicians.”
“Don’t cut, it will bleed,” protested the youngest man in the combo as Gordon Lockley, owner of the hair salon, took up scissors. Lockley waggled his arms and snipped away. “What’s that stuff?” the youth asked sniffing a cloud of hair spray.
Mrs. Lloyd B. Thompson came in for her regular shampoo and set and looked aghast at the infiltrators. She walked to the back of the salon muttering, “Is this a happening?”
“They are real fine boys,” said Mrs. Kratoska. “I got to know them when they rented the Hullabaloo to practice. They came at noon and would forget to eat. Sometimes, they’d stay until 2:30 in the morning when the booking agent chased them out. There are hundreds of bands in the area, but these boys are going into the big time.”
When and if they do, it will be with shimmering hair styles by Locksley – at $17 a styling.
The Fridley Hullabaloo indeed didn’t last long, and the location opened as the Casino Royale on October 18, 1968.
Hullabaloo was followed by the Casino Royale, which was opened by John and Annette Flaherty on October 18, 1968. The Flahertys had owned Someplace Else in Robbinsdale.
On December 8, 1968, the Minneapolis Tribune Sunday Picture Edition did a huge spread on the club, written and photographed by Mike Zerby.
- The Manager and booker was Bruce Brantseg, age 24, who worked for David Anthony.
- There were two sections: a ballroom, with tables on the sides, and the bar, serving pop for 15 cents.
- It opened on October 18, 1968.
- There were two cops and a bouncer. Sign: $100 fine for anyone involved in any fight or disturbance.”
- Bands playing there included the Litter, Good Idea, Marauders, Classic IV, Mystics.
- Decorated in a casino theme, with large cards, dice shakers, and roulette wheels painted on walls.
- Pinball and snooker tables.
- Restricted to ages 16 to 20; sign says “Be 16 or be Gone.” (Annette Flaherty said that parents were welcome for free.)
- “No coats or jackets allowed inside – free coat and purse checking here”
- Zerby: “The faces of the teen-agers were unsmiling and, seemingly, uninvolved. One explained, simply, that one stayed “cool.”
- Open Tuesday nights from 7:30 to 10:30 and weekends from 8:30 to 11:45. “Three hours is long enough”: Brantseg.
- Zerby: “At the end, the teen-agers seemed pooped, but somehow restored. It was as if they had undergone their own version of entertainment mixed with shock therapy.”
Entertainment was probably exclusively by local bands.
The C.A. Quintet performed there several times in 1969:
- July 11
- July 18
- August 25
- September 18
- November 28
Pepper Fog performed on November 8, 1969.
The Flahertys sold the club to Carl Rostburg.
By 1970 it was a Country place, owned by Lee Silverton. In April 1970, Texas Bill Strength was working there Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
ANTHONY B. CASSIUS
To talk about the Cassius Bar is to talk about Anthony Brutus Cassius, so we’ll start with his impressive resume. Much of the information below comes from:
- A long article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune published on August 14, 1983, on the occasion of his passing
- An article dated December 8, 1939, in the Minneapolis Spokesman
- Census data from Ancestry.com
A warning that some of these dates don’t match up, which happens when they come from different sources and different memories.
A.B. Cassius was the son of southern slaves; his father was a minister who had run away from a plantation. Census data shows that his father was born in Virginia and his mother was born in Texas.
Anthony was born on June 29, 1907, in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
In 1920, Anthony left his family in Guthrie, Oklahoma at age 13, leaving behind 22 other brothers and sisters. He made his way to St. Paul with $7 in his pocket.
He found work at a hotel and slept on a mattress in its basement while he attended Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul. He went on to attend Macalester College, where he was a star football player, and the University of Minnesota; he reported to the Census in 1940 that he completed one year of college. The Star Tribune reported that at the U of M, he decided to open a restaurant where blacks would be served on an equal footing with whites.
In 1930 he was a waiter in a hotel restaurant, presumably the Curtis, where he served his apprenticeship.
The Strib reported that in 1936 he left the Curtis to run a series of beer parlors and restaurants, including Dreamland.
In 1939 The Spokesman reported that he had been:
- Business agent and president of Waiters’ Union No 614, A.F. of L.
- A member of the Central Labor Union
- A joint executive board member of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers’ Union
- A member of the Urban League Board
- A member of the Masonic Lodge
- He conducted the Urban League Waiters’ School for two years
In 1939, with partner Thel Collins, he started the Dreamland Cafe. Dreamland did not have a liquor license, but was a fancy, dress-up establishment in the center of the city’s south side black community where everyone felt comfortable.
In 1940, when he registered for the draft for World War II, he reported that he was a waiter at the Curtis Hotel.
CASSISUS BAR AND CAFE
In 1946 he sold Dreamland to buy his own bar with a hard liquor license. He aspired to become the first black man to own a hard liquor license in Minneapolis, but the City Council put one obstacle after another in his way. One argument was that he was still the owner of Dreamland, which he wasn’t. Another was that he was a Communist, because he was friends with the head of the Communist Part in Minneapolis. (Being a strong Union man didn’t help this cause either.) One Alderman even had the nerve to say that black people should only be licensed for “barbeques, shoeshine parlors, and barbershops.”
Finally, after two years and spending all of his savings of $3,500, Cassius got the license, but it left him with no money to set up the bar. He went to Midland Bank and said that he wanted a loan of $10,000. The Vice Presidents laughed and said the only black man they’d ever loaned money to was Cecil Newman, editor of the Minneapolis Spokesman, and that was only $500. But Cassius was persistent and spoke to the Bank President, Arnulf Ueland, and within 15 minutes he had him convinced to give him the whole amount. The note was for 24 months but he paid it off in a year.
207 SOUTH THIRD STREET
The Cassius Bar opened in 1946 in its original location at 207 So. Third Street in Minneapolis. The Strib described it as a “tough, black-run bar” that he overhauled in interior and reputation, and turned into a hangout for sports figures, performers, and politicians.
The Bamboo Room opened in September 1949. It was a jazz venue, featuring such local mainstays as Percy Hughes, Irv Williams, Oscar Frazier and the Four Notes, and the Rook Ganz Orchestra. Prince Rogers and his Combo performed there on Friday and Saturday nights in 1951.
It apparently went dark summers, as it had re-openings in September 1950 – ’53.
The Bamboo Room featured Oscar Frazier in 1954.
The extraordinary photo below is identified as “Cassius Bar and Playroom” and was taken by John F. Glanton. It is probably the original location.
318 SOUTH THIRD STREET
In July 1958 the bar was moved to 318 So. Third St. in Minneapolis due to redevelopment of the original area. The building, built in 1908, had two stories.
Kevin Diaz of the Star Tribune article described it:
In its early history, Cassius’ bar was known as a place where whites and blacks mingled in elegant surroundings, dressed in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. In its later history, headlines told of fights, shootings and one well-known police brutality case: A black police lieutenant, Ray Presley, publicly accused two off-duty white colleagues of drunkenness when they arrested a black patron there.
In the 1960s it was the site “Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Time,” a simulcast on KUXL featuring the best in R&B as played by Prime Minister Billy G.
In 1968 Cassius tried to relocate the bar to 401 E. Lake Street, which was outside of the City’s liquor patrol limits. That required a referendum among local residents, which he lost.
On June 20, 1980, the Cassius Bar closed for good. The area had declined for several years, and drugs, violence, and racial turmoil had taken over.
Anthony B. Cassius died on August 1, 1983.
McCready’s was run by Pat Mus from about 1980 to 1986, and then sold it to Doc Holiday, who owned it to the end. The manager was Diane Schmidt, who said she had been working hard to “turn the place around.” She said that “It’s been a kind of ‘Cheers’-type place in the neighborhood. It attracts bankers, lawyers, blue-collar types…”
The building burned to the ground on Monday, October 14, 1991.
THE CHINESE GAMBLING DEN
On the second floor of 318 So. Third Street there was a hangout for the elders of the On Leong (Chinese) Merchants Association, accused by the FBI of a big-time gambling operation.
In 1980, five members of a Chinese street gang called the Ghost Shadows held up 150 guest at a Chinese New Year’s party on the second floor, ordering them to undress and hand over their valuables. Retired restaurateur Hugh Wong, working security for the On Leong, which owned the building, shot several of the robbers, who were captured by the police. Wong himself was shot to death four years later, and his killer has not been found. U.S. Marshals confiscated the building from the On Leong in 1990 as part of a national multi-million dollar gambling crackdown against many of the organization’s leaders, including Bloomington’s David Fong. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 15, 1991)
This most fascinating venue had two addressess (6 West Channel Street and 215 So. Wabasha in St. Paul ) and several iterations through the years.
SAND AND MUSHROOMS
Approximately 50 caves were created in the bluffs above the Mississippi River in St. Paul in 1840 by the mining of silica sand for glass making. In 1899, French immigrant Albert Mouchnotte found that constant temperature of 48 degrees was ideal for mushrooms to flourish, and started growing mushrooms in seven of the caves. Mouchnotte sold the mushrooms, first to the finest restaurants in St. Paul, and then around the world. During the early 1900s the bluffs became known as Mushroom Valley. Other caves were used for cheese making and beer brewing.
In the 1920s, the main cave became a series of speakeasies, the first of which was known simply as the Wabasha Street Speakeasy, complete with its own whisky still.
Ezra Gray explains:
Before Castle Royal there was Mystic Caverns. For a minute, anyway. The fascinating, mostly forgotten story of the brothers Foster, who opened a nightclub like no other inside one of the old glass mines in the East Side river bluffs.
Local gangsters quickly pushed their way in, installing card tables and a roulette wheel in the back. “Floating Flo,” performing a nude(ish) dance à la Sally Rand, appeared briefly on their band stage in the autumn of 1933, creating – not a scandal, really – a local story of interest.
Sadly, the enterprise was ill-fated and short-lived. The brothers somehow ran afoul of local law enforcement’s “night club protective association.” They were out of business by the end of 1934.
Mystic Caverns were featured in the September 1933 (?) issue of Modern Mechanix and Inventions, shared on Facebook by Ezra Gray. Caption for the photos below:
- Interior view of the Mystic Caverns of St. Paul, where revelers disport themselves beneath 150 feet of sold sand rock, in a temperature of 48 degrees plus 8 degrees of artificial heat.
- Left: The entrance to the subterranean chamber – a huge gorilla mouth at the base of a towering sandstone cliff bordering the Mississippi River.
- Right: The Bar, a favorite rendezvous.
The text of the feature above reads:
St. Paul, Minnesota, boasts a new night club said to be without equal anywhere in the world for novelty and comfort during torrid summer months. Called the “Mystic Caverns,” the club occupies a labyrinth of caves which form a natural refrigerator with a year round temperature of 48 degrees.
The subterranean chambers where the revelers disport themselves have their opening in the face of a towering sandstone cliff bordering the Mississippi. Once you step inside you are literally in the bowels of the earth, with solid sandstone walls all around you and 150 feet of solid sandrock overhead.
About eight degrees of heat make the atmosphere decidedly comfortable inside the caverns when the mercury is flirting with the hundred mark outdoors. In winter, 20 degrees of furnace heat convert the labyrinthe chambers into a cozy beer hall.
From the Lehmann Farms website:
Eventually, Albert Mouchnotte’s daughter Josie and her husband William Lehmann took over the mushroom business. In 1932, they began to convert the main cave into a nightclub. It opened just as Prohibition ended, [October 26, 1933] as the Castle Royal. The club received the first post-Prohibition liquor license in St. Paul. Musicians such as Cab Calloway, Dorsey brothers and Henry James played at the nightclub. Craps and poker took place in the back rooms.
Lehmann Farms website:
Castle Royal was reputedly a favorite of gangsters. St. Paul police chief John O’Connor allowed some of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals to use his city as a sanctuary as long as they didn’t commit crimes in St.Paul. Gangsters such as Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger used St. Paul as a haven, reportedly spending some time at the Castle Royal. Legend has it that there was a 1934 triple-murder in the caves involving Chicago gangsters (the bodies were never found).
AFTER CASTLE ROYAL
From 1941 to 1965 the caves again became the focus of the family mushroom business. The business ran under a few different names during the time including, “Lehmann’s Hot House” and the “Wm. F. Mushroom Company.” In 1965 William Lehmann sold the caves and moved the business to Lake Elmo where he constructed above-ground sheds to grow the mushrooms.
What happened next is difficult to pin down, probably because there is a series of caves. Here are various accounts, in no particular order:
- The caves were renovated in 1972.
- A disco called the Castle Royal 2 opened in the ’70s.
- Fires were started by the homeless.
- There were “a few failed business attempts.”
- There was a huge flood, which wiped out the housing along the river.
- (Two of) the caves were taken by the city and were filled with flood debris.
- The caves went into bankruptcy and were owned by a bank.
- The bank was about to tear down the outside façade when the caves were purchased with the goal to restore the caves to their former glory.
WABASHA STREET CAVES
Now called Wabasha Street Caves, the venue offers tours and dances, and can be rented for events. The venue’s 12,000 square feet is finished with brick walls, stucco ceilings, carpeted dining space, a hardwood dance floor, a theatrical stage, and a 60 foot bar. Geothermal energy is used to limit fuel need for heating and eliminate the need for air conditioning. See http://www.wabashastreetcaves.com/
The Catacombs Coffeehouse was a rather short-lived performance space (at least under that name) that existed in November and December of 1970. Listings in the Strib note a play or two, individual singers, and on November 13, 1970, a rock band called Bacchalia.
It turns out that the Catacombs shared the same address as the Gethsemane Episcopal Church, at 905 So. 4th Ave. in Minneapolis. The church is looking into its records to see if there is any more light to shed on this. Any memories of performing or watching a performance here are welcome! Please contact me!
The CC Tap was at 2600 Lyndale Ave. So. in Minneapolis.
Permit cards show that the building was built in 1884 as “stores and flats” at a cost of $12,000. In 1895 a dressmaker advertised at this address.
By 1900 it was the location of Waldron & Co. Grocers; Henry Waldron was arrested in a crackdown of grocers selling unlabeled baking powder at his store.
By May 1925 the grocery store was the Consumers Groceries Wholesale Supply Co. (a chain with many stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul)
National Tea purchased 11 Consumers Groceries stores, including the one at 2600 Lyndale. The announcement was made in the Minneapolis Tribune on November 12, 1927. It was a National Tea in January 1928.
By June 1928, A. Rudoy had a grocery permit, and was probably running the independent Daylight Market, which we see advertised from December 1928 to at least 1930.
From at least May 1933 to May 1934 it was part of the huge Red Owl chain of grocery stores.
The beginnings of the CC Tavern seem to be in April 1935, when E.C. Hall received a license to run a “confectionary.” In July 1935, Clarence Campbell received his 3.2 beer license and the CC Tavern was off and running. Campbell was also a real estate agent.
The tavern was advertised for sale in July 1942.
In August 1949, manager Frank Kuffel was fined $100 for violating the pinball ordinance by awarding free beer and cigars for chips earned on the machines instead of free plays. Kuffel was manager from at least July 1948 until at least January 1955. When he died in 1964 at age 74, he was described as a retired truck driver.
Permit records show an extensive remodel in August 1955.
The name changed to the CC Tap sometime between October 1956 and April 1957, according to wantads for staff. The name kind of went back and forth for a long time, though.
In March 1959 the owner was identified as Raymond Abel. In August 1952, a Raymond Abel was the proprietor of Ray’s Sixth Avenue Tavern, at 813 Portland Ave. in Minneapolis.
Abel retired in 1966 because of arthritis according to an article about how he grew mass quantities of tomatoes and gave them to senior citizens in a highrise (Minneapolis Tribune, October 22, 1977) Abel died in 1982 at the age of 64.
The bar was remodeled in June 1968.
In 1969 bands included the Vacant Lot and Matinee.
$4,000 in remodeling was done in 1970.
Another $4,000 in repairs were done in January 1972 after a fire.
In March 1972 it was listed for sale.
In July 1974, the owner was listed as Richard Skilbeck, who was seeking a liquor license for the otherwise 3.2 bar.
On May 30, 1975, a notice included a lot of information:
- The CC Tap was now the CC Club
- It was closed for remodeling and would reopen soon
- It was for sale
- There were four apartments on the upper floor
- A liquor license application was pending
A liquor license was approved in 1975 with the promise that the CC Club would install a kitchen.
This venue was located at 416 Cedar Ave. So. on the West Bank in Minneapolis.
THE CEDAR THEATER
The Cedar Theater opened on October 28, 1948, as a movie theater, showing the film “Big City,”directed by Norman Taurog. (There had apparently been another Cedar Theater in the 1920s at 713 Cedar Ave.) The Cedar Theater at 416 Cedar Ave. was built by Nathan Shapiro and showman Ben Berger. Nate Shapiro had previously owned Curly’s Night Club. The new theater was constructed by Sebco Inc., a firm that specialized in theaters and night clubs.
Will Jones reported that “a couple of dingy shops and walk-up apartments were torn down to make room for the movie house.” Living quarters were found for people who were forced to move. It was the first theater in the area in 13 years. Berger, president of the North Central Allied Independent Theater Owners Association, had initially blocked Shapiro from getting his license, but after protests from the neighborhood, including children from the Pillsbury Settlement House, he relented and became a partner. (Minneapolis Tribune, October 28, 1948)
The initial announcement said that the theater held 820 patrons, with restrooms in the basement.
Front walls are completely draped, there being no proscenium arch, and decorated with modernistic facial figures before the drapes. The ceiling is blue-green, walls tan and white striped, the foyer decorated in brick and plaster. A heavy-duty air conditioning system has been installed, as well as completely modern projection equipment … The front attraction board is reached from the top of the canopy, obviating the use of ladders in changing the board. (Minneapolis Star, October 25, 1948)
A contest was held to name the theater, with suggestions like
- The Humphrey
- The Stassen
- Snoose Gardens
- The Casbah
But more than 500 people suggested the Cedar, and the Cedar it was. The Southside Businessman’s Association provided a $250 prize to Mrs. R.E. Mellen for submitting the best reason for the name.
Jones also noted that the seats were varying widths, in order to stagger the aisles and provide unobstructed views.
The marquee was constructed by the Naegele Co. for $1,500.
PORN AND UNDERGROUND
It appears that was in about September 1964, that the theater began showing adult movies. Admission for a sizzling double feature was only $1!
On October 1, 1967 the theater began advertising “Underground” films, which were still Adults Only.
In January 1968, they showed a “Giant ‘Hippie’ Festival Devoted to the Life and Loves of Hippies!”
In March 1968 they presented an Andy Warhol Film Festival.
But on June 13, 1968, the theater announced that it was coming up from the Underground for the summer and went back on the porn train, showing those classic films, “The Acid Eaters” and “The Brick Dollhouse.”
The theater was billed as the Cedar Underground Cinema from November 14 to December 6, 1968. The one below appeared when John Lennon was still a Beatle and Yoko Ono was still his girlfriend.
The last ad for the Cedar Theater, again showing adult movies, may have been on January 23, 1969.
THE CEDAR VILLAGE THEATER
On March 1, 1969, the newly renamed Cedar Village Theater became the home of the Contemporary Dance Theater, founded by Loyce Houlton. The building had recently been purchased by the Harris Company from Ben Berger. A $33,000 remodeling job created a stage, removing 300 seats – much of the renovation was done by the dancers themselves. The first performance of the now-renamed Minnesota Dance Company was on Saturday, March 15, 1969. (Minneapolis Tribune, Allan Holbert, March 16, 1969)
Other groups rented the theater as well, including:
- The Center Opera Company
- The Minnesota Opera Company
- The Nancy Hauser Dance Company
- The Childrens’ Theater Company
- The Deja Vu Film Society, which screened old movies and shorts
CONCERTS AT THE CVT
The following is not a complete list, but comes from the online resource of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Additional listings and photos are welcome: please feel free to contact me.
In 1970 the Walker Art Center began sponsoring concerts at the Cedar Village Theater and others followed suit.
BOBBY BLUE BLAND
Bobby Blue Bland was the first in the Walker series, performing with a six piece band on February 3 through 5, 1970.
Doug Kershaw, March 2, 1970. Kershaw was backed by local band Bamboo, and Will Shapira’s review the next day in the Minneapolis Tribune indicated that there was a clash of styles between the two. Also frustrating Kershaw was a crying baby during “Louisiana Man,” and a phalanx of photographers at the edge of the stage. He cut the second set short at 10 pm.
Howlin’ Wolf appeared on April 2, 1970, sponsored by the Walker.
Ewen McColl and Peggy Seeger, May 5, 1970, sponsored by the Walker.
Willie Mae Thornton appeared on May 6, 1970. Her appearance was sponsored by the Scholar Coffeehouse.
Nineteenth Amendment, May 19, 1970
Reviewer Irv Letofsky didn’t manage to mention the date, but presumably on May 30, 1970, a “new and anarchistic comedy ensemble” called Hevy Gunz Industries held the World Premier of their record “Dope on Dope and Dope Doops” at the CVT. The record wasn’t actually out yet, and again, it was unclear whether they played the tapes or acted it out, but the record was to be the first of three LPs, followed by “Right On Time” and “Moon Over Miasma.”
The record was designed for “the dope-crazed depth of the hippie netherworld,” following the efforts of Nurd Nork in his crusade to stop the scourge of dope – the evil weed.” About 500 people attended the event, including three or four infants, a couple of senior citizens, a few of the inevitable narcs, and at least three dogs, two of which got into fights during the production.
The records were being produced by Pandora Productions and Cold Shot Film Productions. The project started when Pandora sponsored a half-hour series on KUXL radio on Sunday nights. Cast members included Paul Davies, Kiki Sherman, Pat Donaghue, Ruth Schroeder, and Sean Blackburn. Some of the radio bits were being taped, but then writer/director Tom Olson (aka Tom Py) was “spooked by an anti-drug radio program run simultaneously on several stations.” He wrote the script for the first album in eight hours, and the cast churned it out in an all-night recording session.
The producer was Bob Zeller of Cold Shot Films, who was financing the recordings. Zeller was a former instructor at Augsburg College, at the time teaching a film class at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Letofsky found the content to be similar to Firesign Theater, but more political and heavy-handed. “The straights are not likely to get it.” The group tried to get the record played on the radio, but the answer was “No Way.”
June 9, 1970: Rock Concert, three bands, it says. Great!
The Paisleys and the Litter, June 16, 1970. Ken Schaffer Concert Series.
June 23, 1970: Ken Schaffer Concert Series.
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee appeared on June 30, 1970, sponsored by the Walker.
The Paisleys, July 7, 1970
Mojo Buford Band, with Lonnie Knight playing during breaks; July 28, 1970. Ken Schaffer Concert Series.
White Lightning: August 4, 1970. Ken Schaffer Concert Series.
BEAR, BEAVER, PEACOCK
Local band Bear, Beaver, Peacock and Cassidy performed on September 17, 1970.
Mark Lundeen on guitar, Drummer is Rick Hochstein (Bear) on drums, and Mark Harland on bass. Unknown singer.
John Hewitt was kind enough to find out the lineup of Cassidy from his Dreamrunners bandmate Chris McGown. The early lineup of Cassidy pictured below, from left to right, is Willie Ries on guitar, Chris McGown on guitar, Mike McClure on drums, Don Strand on guitar, and Dick Crysler on bass. Chris and Don both used Vox Super Beatle Amps. Thanks, John!
Baccanalia, the Marauders, and Ken Schaffer on October 27, 1970.
Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band and Mama’s Home Cookin’ – Lights by Center of Consciousness. November 3, 1970.
Chrickett, the Paisleys, and Dean Carr: November 24, 1970.
“Rock Concert,” December 8, 1970
MORE HEVY GUNZ
Hevy Gunz Industries was back on January 3, 1971, and this time Marshall Fine was not amused. The group had had a lot of buildup in the Minneapolis Tribune and the Minnesota Daily, comparing the troupe to the successful Firesign Theater.
But while Firesign is moving to subtler and more cutting material, Hevy Gunz is content with heavyhanded, tasteless bits about mental retardation and a deodorant for male genitals. No one was introduced and the show started an hour late. They did a number of funny pieces and displayed occasional flashes of insightful humor, however. And, admittedly, some of their bad taste humor was humorous. They seemed to be reaching and to have the potential to be really funny. But obviously it will take time.
Preceding Hevy Gunz were the Jook Savages, a Minneapolis group from the Cowboy Orchestra Waifs (COW) Band mold. Where the COW Band is bold in its experiments with rhythms and atonality, much like Miles Davis and Don Ellis, the Jooks were just stoned and untalented.
A classic Marshall Fine review! (Minneapolis Star, January 4, 1971)
YELLOW DOG CONTRACT
Yellow Dog Contract, January 29, 1971. Mark Peterson produced this show and drew the poster.
Stephen Cowdery was at the Yellow Dog Contract Show and was kind enough to send in the photos below:
Thank you to Sandra Kenyon for help identifying band members!
April 11, 1971: Faculty Recital with Dave Ray, Dean Carr, Dean Granrose, Roy Alstad, and Ken Mozen.
Summer Music Festival and Sunday Night Concert Series
July 4, 1971: West Bank Independence Day Festival: American Rock and Roll Music, Noon to Midnight
July 18, 1971: Country Rock
August 1, 1971: Blues
August 15, 1971: Jazz
August 28, 1971: Genesis (all girl band – not part of festival)
August 29, 1971: Rhythm & Blues
September 11, 1971: Cedar-Riverside Autumn Festival (one of several venues)
As part of the Snoose Boulevard Festival, on April 8, 1972, Anne-Charlotte Harvey performed at the Cedar, along with Festival organizer Maury Bernstein and dialect comedian Steve Benson.
The Grande Illusion Cinema hosted screenings of classic and art films at the theater in 1972.
1972 was a big year for dance and opera performance at the theater.
On March 4, 1973, Skogie and the Flaming Pachucos had a concert at the Theater, presented by Encore Corp. They were just released their album “The Butler Did It,” produced by David Zimmerman.
April 1, 1973: Willie Murphy and Betty Brenner, and jazz groups The Night Visitors and Mananga performed in what was billed as “An Evening of Jazz and Blues Music.”
April 19, 1973: The Honeydripper No. 1 Revue was made up of Dave Ray, Tony Glover, Willie Murphy and the Bumblebees, and the West Bank Trackers.
The second Snoose Boulevard Festival opened on April 27, 1973, with an all-Swedish concert at the CVT. A Swedish TV team filmed the Festival for a TV special shown in Sweden.
The Honeydrippers, minus the West Bank Trackers, made a return performance on December 2, 1973.
Four “Homegrown” jazz concerts were sponsored by the Cedar-Riverside Arts Council and the West Bank School of Music, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts:
February 24, 1974: Ted Unseth and the Wolverines, Butch Thompson, and the West Bank Trackers. This first concert drew a “raucous full house.”
March 31, 1974: Mike Elliot Trio and the Art Resnick Quartet
April 14, 1974: The Night Visitors and the John Einweck Band
May 19, 1974: Whole Earth Rainbow Band, Scott Fraser, and the Milo Fine Free Jazz Ensemble.
The third annual Snoose Boulevard Festival featured Anne-Charlotte Harvey at the Theater on May 24 to 26, 1974. The opening night was in Swedish. The Festival was covered by the Swedish Broadcasting Corp. and NPR.
CRISIS AT THE CVT
At some point the Cedar-Riverside Arts Council had been the organization that was operating the theater. The Council was funded by a grant, which ran out in mid-1974. This left the theater in the control of Cedar-Riverside Associates (CRA), the company that was developing the area. But the company was facing money problems too – remember the recession of the mid ’70s?
Meanwhile, the theater’s condition had severely deteriorated, and one by one the tenants were moving to other quarters. CRA was looking for buyers or tenants, to no avail. The theater was closed.
BACK TO THE CEDAR THEATER
The theater re-opened, again named the Cedar Theater, on January 29, 1975, showing “Lenny Bruce Without Tears.” It was leased by Ridgeway Theaters, Inc, a small, independent company, as described by General Manager Marty Grodin. The theater underwent another $30,000 in renovations, and began screening a variety of films.
The fourth annual Snoose Boulevard Festival did not forsake the Cedar – Anne-Charlotte Harvey held her annual concerts there on May 23 to 25, 1975.
The Cedar also hosted occasional live music – I won’t go too far past my 1974 limit, but the Suicide Commandos and Flamingo appeared there on May 15, 1977.
The Cedar Theater closed again, in May 1986.
In September 1986, the Coffeehouse Extempore relocated to the Cedar. At that point the Cedar had 400 seats and a stage measuring 35′ by 50.’ The University Film Society showed movies three times a week on the big screen. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune, September 27, 1986)
The Coffeehouse Extempore went bankrupt in early September 1987. Its last concert was by folk singer Gordon Bok on September 2, 1977. This left the U Film Society out on the street as well. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune, August 28 and October 25, 1987)
CEDAR CULTURAL CENTER
In 1989, CRA sold the building for $1 to Minnesota STAR, a non-profit arts organization. The group moved into the building in the fall of 1988 and took it over officially in February 1989. It was at this time that the building was renamed the Cedar Cultural Center. The floor was leveled and seating was cut down to 300 – the old seats were donated to the Theater in the Round. The first month was dedicated to Celtic music. Their first concert was held on March 3, 1989. (Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Jon Bream, March 10, 1989)
Cedric’s was owned by WCCO radio personality Cedric Adams. It was located on Highway 100 at 50th Street in Edina. The restaurant featured music occasionally and Adams occasionally sat in on drums. The restaurant failed for lack of a liquor license.
The Celebrity Lounge was located at 655 Selby Ave. in St. Paul.
Twins catcher Earl Battey, former Gopher quarterback Sandy Stephens, and Mrs. Zanthia Stone took over the liquor license from Michael F. Munzen on March 1, 1965. They ran it through the spring of 1968.
It advertised on radio station KUXL in 1966.
In 1968 and 1969 it was owned by Mr. Marion Stone. He was later convicted of tax evasion for those years and sentenced to 90 days in the Workhouse.
In 1976 the liquor license was held by Mrs. Mary Page.
The Century Music Hall was located at 5 So. Fourth Street in Downtown Minneapolis.
It was built in 1904, and was used almost entirely for concerts, according to Randolph Edgar.
Below is the view from Fourth Street from First Avenue South to Hennepin.
The Chalet was located at 3516 No. Lilac Drive (Highway 100).
A June 1963 ad called it “The Northwest’s newest and most distinctive supper club.”
THE ALPINE ROOM
At first the entertainment centered around shows in the Alpine Room. These included professional, national acts such as the following, who appeared in 1963:
- Henny Youngman
- Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads
- Orville Brooks and His Ink Spots – June 6-23. Brooks was the only original member.
- The Flamingos, direct from Las Vegas
Local chanteuse Nikki North entertained in March 1964.
Local bandleader Big Stoop Chamberlain appeared in 1964
1969 was a big year for the Playgirl Club, which apparently wasn’t affiliated with Hugh Hefner, but was full of groovy chicks just the same.
From 1974 to 2000 the building was the home of Nicklow’s Greek restaurant.
The building was razed for the expansion of Highway 100 and is now the site of the CUB in Crystal.
Thanks to Gary Perna and the Facebook gang for info and memories!
Chanhassan Frontier – apparently had three venues in 1969:
- The Downstairs, featuring The Underground Expression
- Bronco – Doc Evans
- Courtyard – Don Davidson Trio
All I know about this is on this ad!
Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale was located at Seventh Street and 4th Avenue South in Minneapolis.
It opened in 1933 and was originally to be run by Charles Saunders and Charles “the Finn” Herlin, an influential bartender. Herlin had created “the President” cocktail (a mix of orange, lemon, gin and finished with a dash of grenadine.) Herlin died soon after the restaurant opened, leaving Saunders to run the cafe until his death.
The ad below came from a 1939 entertainment magazine, so Charlie’s musical enticements were emphasized:
Rollie Altmeyer at the Hammond Organ and the Novachord. Hmm. According to Wikipedia, only 1,069 Novachords were built over a period from 1939 to 1942. Here’s a photo of one:
Also, Eunice Johnson singing your requests
When Charlie Saunders died from a heart attack in 1962, his wife Louise took over running the restaurant. Louise had been a speed skater, was an avid golfer, and was one of the first women to become a partner in a law firm in the Twin Cities. She ran Charlie’s until the end serving as she said, “Beer, bourbon and beef.”
Charlie’s provided entertainment nightly in the cocktail lounge and also had a piano bar.
One of Charlie’s biggest boosters was journalist Cedric Adams, who patronized the place so often he had a sandwich named after him.
The statue in front was called Scherzo, created by Sylvia Whitney Frishmuth. It was originally located in a roof garden at the Foshay Tower. It was sold to a private party for their home.
Facebook fact: Go to the Super Eight in Bloomington and ask to see the wall mural of Charlie’s.
979 Rondo at Chatsworth, St. Paul
Tracing the history of buildings in St. Paul is more difficult than those in Hennepin County because fewer resources are online (or I am unaware of them), including the St. Paul newspapers, so I am left with the Minneapolis newspapers, and helpful comments on Facebook. But I will give this a try!
A NOTE ON ADDRESSES
There seem to be three addresses in play here:
389 Selby was the original address of the Chatterbox. The first mention of the place that I found in the Minneapolis newspapers was in March 1938, but it could have gone back as far as the end of Prohibition, which was April 1933.
We see 389 Selby in a note dated March 1946 about the bar being remodeled.
On September 26, 1950, in a report about a robbery, we learn that Robert Whiteside was the manager/bartender.
391 Selby was a four-story apartment building that went back to 1908, if the address stayed consistent. In 1948, a 20 ft. high stairway collapsed and six people were injured.
393 Selby comes up in the St. Paul Globe as a combination commercial/residential building going back to at least 1890. Businesses at the turn of the last Century included a dry good store, a plumber, a beauty parlor, a massage school (ladies only), and Korn’s Rental Emporium, which rented bicycles, all the rage at the time.
393 was the Bakke Variety and Department Store in 1962, before the 1965 fire. This became the address of the Chatterbox, as evidenced by a note/ad in December 1985 and another in April 1992.
THE BEAUX ARTS THEATER
Information about this theater comes partially from the website Cinema Treasures.
The Elk Theater opened in 1912 to 1917. There was also an Elk Theater at 2707 E. Lake Street in Minneapolis – and one in Elk River. There was an ad in November 1912 at 393 Selby.
It was called the Rialto Theater from 1917 to 1918. (Not to be confused with the Rialto at 735 E. Lake Street in Minneapolis)
It was renamed the Summit Theater from 1918 to 1933. On June 28, 1924, proprietors Mr. and Mrs. William A. Cameron were shot by a bandit after they closed the theater. Mrs. Cameron died of her injuries and left a considerable sum to her husband, the paper was sure to report. The address was given as 39, Selby! Their typo, not mine!
It was then renamed Beaux Arts Theater from 1933 to at least the 1950s.
In 1935, a story about a fire identified the Beaux Arts Theater at 391 Selby. The theater had 200 patrons at the time – it reportedly seated 300. 22 apartments had to be evacuated as well. Two years later, in a story about fraud in “Bank Nights” at the Beaux Arts, the address was given as 393. And in 1938, a story about a robbery stuck to the 393 address.
Cinema Treasures says that the site is now a parking lot.
On August 8, 1965, a 4-alarm fire broke out at the Abbey Apartments, which were adjacent to the Chatterbox Bar and Supper Club, as it was referred to in the newspaper report. The owner of the Chatterbox was listed as William O. McCann. The Abbey was a four-story brick building that housed 22 residents. Two residents and two firemen were not seriously injured. The apartment building, bar, and Bakke’s Variety Store were destroyed – damage was estimated at $150,000. When fire crews came on the scene, the smoke was so thick, they couldn’t tell if the fire was at the Abbey or the Angus Hotel across the street. More than half of St. Paul’s fire equipment was used to fight the fire. A 60 ft. radio antenna on top of the apartment building belonged to the Yellow Cab Co. of St. Paul – a crane was brought in to make sure it didn’t fall. The tragedy of the fire for the Chatterbox was that part of its insurance was held by a company that was declared insolvent by the Ramsey County District Court the week before, and McCann had not transferred it to another company. (Minneapolis Star, August 9, 1965; Minneapolis Tribune, Paul Presbrey, August 9, 1965)
Facebook comment: The hotel and the Chatterbox burned from top to bottom, and it took three years or more to restore it all. Terrific-sized ice dams flowed out several windows on all but the top two floors – it looked like Minnehaha Falls coming out of each window from the firefighters spraying the structure for what seemed like hours.
In Joe Soucheray’s column of June 4, 1978, Joe named Robert McCann as the owner of the Chatterbox. Robert
Looking for the Chatterbox Bar? Take your pick of several that have come and gone over the years. Some of these are music venues, some of them are not. But I’m including all that I found, just for fun. Here they are, in approximate chronological order.
THE NICOLLET HOTEL
The Chatterbox Cocktail Lounge (and the Minnesota Terrace) were part of a $50,000 addition to the Nicollet Hotel, which opened on October 8, 1936. It gave way to the Chatterbox for Ladies, according to ads in June 1940. From there it seems to have been renamed.
389 SELBY AVE., ST. PAUL
This Chatterbox Bar, owned by the McCann family, goes back to at least 1938. See separate entry for the history of this landmark watering hole.
2229 E. 35th STREET, MINNEAPOLIS
The Chatterbox Bar was located at 2229 E. 35th Street in Minneapolis. An alternate address is 3500 23rd Ave. So. The building was erected in 1922 for $11,000. There were stores on the first floor and apartments above. Supposedly during Prohibition it held a speakeasy behind a barber shop. Other uses of the building included:
- 1925: H.A. Rosenthal Drug Co.
- 1929: Electric Car Shop
- 1929: Charme Beauty Shop
- 1934: 35th Street Pharmacy
- 1937: Burr’s Cash Grocery
- 1937: Barber Shop
- 1949: Hamburger Shop
The first mention I found of this Chatterbox was in January 1955, when there was a break-in. On October 25, 1958, there was an explosion at the bar, which was probably the result of a practical joke gone wrong. Someone had a large firecracker, and two men had to be treated for burns at General Hospital. There were 25 people in the tavern at the time. On June 18, 1960, two customers got “slugged in the head” when they unsuccessfully fought off holdup men who appeared at midnight. A month later, four men were arrested for 13 holdups that had made them temporarily $3,000 to $5,000 richer.
In 2000 the Bar had become the Chatterbox Pub, a 3.2 place owned by Steve and Andrea Miller. Actually, by this time it was described as a “Retro Bar/Lounge.” Dancing was advertised in December 2001. A music venue!
Chatterbox Enterprises, Inc. filed for bankruptcy on August 25, 2015, but as of September 2020, Steve Miller is still shown as the taxpayer and the Pub is still open, despite damage from the May 2020 riots and the Covid-19 restrictions.
3675 MINNEHAHA AVE., MINNEAPOLIS
The Chatterbox II was a 3.2 bar located at 3675 Minnehaha Ave. in Minneapolis. This was a large, half-acre lot at the confluence of Minnehaha Ave., 37th Street E, and 33rd Ave. So. As far as I know this was not a music venue. The building was built in 1924. The beer license was issued in February 1975, although there was no parking lot and the building was located in a residential neighborhood. It became a biker bar, and the owner “quit,” calling it “too tough” and the crowd “rough.” James Pesis became the new owner, remodeled the place, and reopened it in April 1976 as Jimmy’s Liquor Bar. By 1978 the neighbors had had enough of car doors slamming at closing time and people urinating on their lawns. In 1985 it was Jimmy’s Steak and Spirits.
800 CLEVELAND AVE., ST. PAUL
The Chatterbox Pub was located at 800 Cleveland Ave. in St. Paul, in the Highland Shopping Center. The Highland Shopping Center seemed to have a curse. It was completed in September 1939 on land purchased from the Ford Motor Company. On February 20, 1941, a 4-alarm fire caused $200,000 damage, and killed a fireman who had been on the force since 1918. Fighting the fire was complicated by temperatures that reached 14 below zero, freezing the water as it was poured on and freezing gloves to fireman’s hands. The fire started in the main heating plant under the store – asbestos was burned off the furnace and ignited the wood floor.
Ten years later, on Sunday, April 2, 1951, the shopping center burned again, this time causing $1.5 million in damage – St. Paul’s worst fire in history in terms of damage. 14 out of 18 stores were destroyed in the 4 alarm fire that started in the Cut Price Super Market. Spectators crowded the scene, and many were hit when debris was blasted across Cleveland Ave. The fire was blamed on defective wiring caused by a short circuit in the attic above the Ritter Beauty Shop. This was disputed by the electricians.
Each time the Center was rebuilt. The venues before the Chatterbox were:
- Lee’s Village Inn – In December 1944, owned by Frank and Lora Lee. In 1954, owned by Frank Lee, Elmer Wobig, Lee Starr. Closed abruptly in January 1993.
- Doubletree American Grill from 1993 to 1996.
In May 2006, Patrick and Michelle Sayler of Minneapolis opened the Chatterbox Pub. They were inspired by the Chatterbox at 2229 E. 35th Street, but were three times the size. The Pub featured dozens of board games and Atari computer game cartridges, which you could check out. Chatterbox Enterprise Highland Inc. (Andrea Miller, CEO) filed Chapter 11 on November 3, 2015. It apparently stayed open until December 2016.
Chick’s Steak House, per Kenneth Stuart, “was a popular watering hole and I was there only once and that was to see some of the Woody Herman Band sidemen come and sit in with the house band. Seems that was the thing to do after name bands closed at other venues, namely the Prom Ballroom. Saw Woody Herman there the night I went to Chick’s. Woody, at that time, had the Four Brothers sax section with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff and Herbie Steward; Bill Harris on trombone; Billie Bauer, guitar; Don Lamond, drums; Ralph Burns, piano; Chubby Jackson, bass and Davey Tough on drums. I can’t tell you how many of the sidemen won the Downbeat Jazz Poll that year but the band totaled seven winners within a short span of years and they were fantastic. I say fantastic and back then it meant something; not just another term like young people use today. The word awesome was not in our lexicon then. had a house band and was also the site of after hours jamming with national acts that were in town such as Woody Herman’s band in the ’40s.”
This teen center in Chisago City (admittedly far afield from the Twin Cities) had a couple of names.
Mark Karnowski remembers:
The Chisago City Community Center was rented by a couple of different promoters in the mid to late ’60s. Both renamed the building to suit their purposes. The first group called the location the “Peppermint Club” (because the building was painted a hideous pink).
The other group dubbed the place “The Hideaway.”
The groups that played there weekly included the Trashmen, Chancellors, T.C. Atlantic, High Spirits, Stillroven, Castaways, etc. The city stopped renting to the promoters because the events were marred by fights and other problems in the parking lot. I cut a deal with one of the promoters and put up flyers and posters in exchange for free admission.
Hey, it was still there in 2014!
In 2022 the building was a brewery called the Uncommon Loon. A call went out for memorabilia from the old days of the dance clubs to hang on the walls.
Chubb’s Ballroom was located in Eagle Lake, Minnesota. Advertised in 1959 were “Teen Age Hops” at the Spring Lake Ballroom (west of Prior Lake on Highway 13), featuring the Jolly Musicians.
Cicero’s was a chain of restaurants equipped with huge pipe organs. There were three outlets that I’ve found, thanks to the folks on Facebook.
The original Ciceros was located at 2100 N. Snelling in HarMar Mall in Roseville, owned by Mike and Karyl Belknap. The organist was a blind-since-birth singer and organist named George Sumner, who also controlled the instruments around the room from the organ and you never knew if something on the wall near you might be employed as the music played. George would put out records occasionally.
On Worthpoint.com, the record below was uncharitably described:
I guess you’d vaguely call it “country” or “country lounge,” but it won’t sound like any country record you’ve ever heard. Here, Sumner and his organ wail and chug their way through Johnny Horton’s Battle of New Orleans, Hank Williams’ Kawliga, Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes, Shel Silverstein’s Cover Of the Rolling Stone (maybe the album’s highlight) with admirable gusto. A very strange record. Other tracks include: Alabamy Bound, Yellow Ribbon, A Queen on the Kitchen Stool, MacNamara’s Band, others.
The Edina Ciceros was located at 7101 France Ave., inside the Leisure Lane shopping mall. It was owned by Dick and Bonnie Shelley. The restaurant probably opened in 1974, since a flier says that “Beulah,” the “Mighty Pizza Organ,” had been installed there at that time.
Beulah was built in 1930 by the Barton Organ Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to accompany silent films and provide solo entertainment between film performances. Beulah was originally installed in the Paramount Theater in Hamilton, Ohio. She was equipped with special effects, 6 tuned percussion instruments, and 1,100 pipes to simulate orchestral sound and produce pure, physical, unamplified sounds which range from bluegrass fiddles to marching bands. As talking pictures came on the scene in 1930 (just as Beulah was built), many of these pipe organs were discarded and only a handful survived.
Mike Grandchamp was the organist. Here is a video of stills from that location, featuring Grandchamp. Mike’s CV includes working at prestigious clubs, backing strippers on Hennepin Ave., TV gues appearances, concerts, and teaching high school history for ten years. He even installed a theater pipe organ in his own home. He was said to have 2,000 songs in his repertoire.
An ad from 1974 indicates that Wally Brown was the organist.
This location closed in 1982.
There was a third Cicero’s located in Westbrook Mall in Brooklyn Center. It was a similar size instrument to the one in Edina, also a Barton, but a big RED console with oriental decor. The organist was Tony Tahlman, who prior to playing at Cicero’s was the organist at the Elm Roller Rink in Chicago. Someone else remembered that the organists were two older gentleman who were brothers.
The following information was researched, written, and provided by Jeff Neuberger, with thanks.
The Cinderella Inn was a roadhouse and gambling casino located at the NE corner of the intersection of Cleveland and County Road D in Arden Hills. The inn was on a ten-acre site near Lake Johanna.
It was owned by Herman Mitschlager and T F Hoban. Mitschlager was better known as Herman Mitch, who was involved with several gambling dens around town.
The Cinderella had a small orchestra that led to its demise. The banjo player in the orchestra (Dixieland?) was named James Paist. Paist was paid $5 a night to play. From October 21 to December 4, 1933, James Paist also made use of the Cinderella Inn’s dice and roulette tables. As you might guess, he lost: $4,000 to be precise. By day Mr. Paist worked as a bank clerk at the St. Anthony Park State Bank. He wrote checks to cover his losses and then took money from bank customers’ accounts to cover the checks.
It was bad luck for Mitch and Hoban that James Paist’s godfather was Herbert Keller, an attorney and a former mayor of St.Paul. Mr. Keller accused the men of cheating his godson with crooked games. Mitch, Hoban, and two other employees were charged with operating gambling equipment. Also charged was Harry Muggley, a Ramsey County Special Deputy Sheriff. Muggley owned a bowling alley in St. Paul and was a bowler of some note.
The men were convicted in December 1933 and sentenced in January 1934. Mitch and Muggley got a $200 fine and 4 months in the workhouse. The other three men got lesser fines and workhouse time. Paist’s family and friends paid back the $4,000 so he was not charged. Muggley was also fired by Sheriff George Moeller as a Deputy.
By 1938 the Cinderella Inn was in foreclosure and the land, a three bedroom house, a barn, chicken coop, two-car garage, and the Tavern were offered for sale for $6,500. The tavern could be leased separately for $35 a month.
Muggley had also been involved with the Plantation Nightclub in White Bear Lake. One might presume as a Deputy Sheriff he kept the law away and may have made sure the Sheriff got his cut.
The Cinnamon Cellar was on Highway 10 in Anoka, open to teens on Saturdays in 1967.
This venue was in Burnsville according to the folks on Facebook. And it had some trouble. Jim Nalls remembers:
Yes, Cisco’s. The band I was in at the time [named Roller] played there, 1981. If I remember correctly the city of Burnsville revoked Cisco’s liquor license. Instead of shutting down, which is what the city was hoping, for they ran bands at the normal time (9:00 – 1:00) and then they had another band from 1:00 – 5:00am, served soda and non-alcoholic beer. After I left they went to more of a hair band, heavier format.
Not really my timeframe, but what the heck? It might have been something else before Cisco’s, you never know.
The City (originally called Psychotic City), was an under 21 dance venue located at 1536 E. Lake Street.
It was started in October 1967 by 30-year-old Rev. Joseph Selvaggio of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, with a group of fathers and sons in south Minneapolis. “Father Joe” had run a youth club at the church for a year, and had the confidence of the teens. One explained, “He understands us and likes the kind of things we like. He helps you out when you’re in trouble.” Another said, “Father Joe can talk to teen-agers a lot better than he can talk to adults; he’s young, and he can remember when he was a kid. Our parents can’t.”
An open house was held on November 18, 1967, from 2 to 5 pm, with DJ Scott Burton as MC. The bands were the Caretakers and the Woodshed Dixieland Seven. The venue started out as a teen center, open every night of the week, with bands on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. From March to May 1968, it was listed as a dance venue for the under 21 crowd.
But from the start, the City suffered from financial woes. When Father Joe left the priesthood to get married in August 1968, the reputation of the center took another hit.
THE CITY EVOLVES
By the beginning of 1969, the City had moved from a predominantly white dance venue to a drop-in center for “hard core delinquents” of all races, and was receiving grants to keep it going. It eventually became a school site: a precursor to a charter school. The City sold the property in November 1985.
Joseph Kenneth Selvaggio was born in 1937 in Chicago, if I’m reading this right. His father was born in Italy, and had his own awning shop in Chicago in 1940. Joe was ordained as a priest in 1965 and served for three years before he stepped down to get married 1968. He and his wife adopted two children before having one on their own. They divorced in 1982, and he married again in 1984.
Selvaggio was a lifelong activist, serving as co-chairman of Minnesota Clergy and Laymen Concerned during the Vietnam war. In 1971 he founded the Project for Pride in Living, which provided funds and volunteers to renovate housing and teach construction skills to low-income people. He headed that organization for 35 years. He is still working on improving low-income housing today.
One of his fans says, “I’m no fan of churches or religion but that guy is a Saint.”
The Clef Club was an important venue on the North Side of Minneapolis, located inside the Kistler Building on Sixth Ave. No. Please see the page on the Kistler Building for information on the Clef Club.
501 University Ave., St. Paul. First mentioned in the Minneapolis Spokesman in October 1955. Proprietors were Alonzo Ellis of Minneapolis and George Green of St. Paul. On October 14 the act was Coffee and His Cups featuring Little Jimmy and his Saxophone.
Nicollet Ave. jazz venue that booked Jerry Berry’s Quartet in 1959.
According to a 1958 article in the North Hennepin Post, Club 26 was located on Hennepin Ave. and 26th Ave. So. It was formerly owned by brothers John and George Pappas. In April 1958 John bought the Alcan Club in Robbinsdale.
University Ave. in Fridley, 1970
This 3.2 bar was located at 12660 Central Ave. NE in Blaine.
The first ad seen for Club 65 is in November 1962, featuring the Rum River Ramblers and Western nights. The tavern was owned by Pete Guzy, Jr., and by all indications it was always a 3.2 spot. Guzy got in trouble for selling to minors in ’67 and ’68 – the latter resulting in having his license suspended for 30 days.
For help with this intriguing new venue, I joined a Blaine Facebook page and posted the ad for the Inn-to-It Lounge below. Mr. Frank John Sharpe was SO helpful, and recognized it as the old Club 65, which sat on the Highway 65 (Central Ave. NE) service road in an area once known as Johnsville. He had access to a series of Vintage Aerials, probably from the 1960s, and I have included part of one below, which Mr. Sharpe has helpfully labeled for us.
By January 1971, it was the Inn-To-It Lounge, owned by Doug Driggs. Below is the one and only ad found for the place in the Minneapolis papers. Thanks to Steve Laboe for finding it! Note that the address is nonexistent.
A LITTLE TOO IN TO IT
On December 19, 1972, Driggs and an employee engaged in something “really vulgar” and were charged with indecent exposure and lewd behavior. At first the city council refused to renew his license; he hadn’t been convicted of anything, but had broken his promise to phase out “go-go entertainment.” But he reapplied when two council members were missing and got his renewal in February 1973.
There were no hits in the newspaper database after that, and presumably the place was bulldozed as a public nuisance – it was remembered as an empty field for quite a while until the Emberwood Apartments were built on the site.
So many changes were made to the area where Club 78 was located that its location can be described several different ways. I kind of went down the rabbit hole on this one, but drive-ins and carnivals and such all sounded like fun. If there is no source listed for the information in the section below, just chalk it up to Internet factoids that may or may not be true.
In March 1956, a crime report in the Minneapolis Star (see below) gave the address of the Club as 7801 Elliot Ave. in Bloomington.
Perhaps it was on a corner – it was also described as being on 78th Street (thus its name), a bit east of Portland.
And it was often described as being next to the Bloomington Drive-In, which was located at 1101 E. 78th Street – on the southwest corner of 494 and 12th Ave. South. This was the first drive-in in Minnesota and it was opened prior to 1948. It closed in the early-to-mid ’70s.
Nearby was the Collins Mobile Home Court, which was built in the late ’40s. The Collins (Mildred and William) owned a traveling carnival and stored all of the equipment in a vacant lot behind the drive-in and next to the Mobile Home Court (currently Walmart). The Mobile Home Court closed around 1994 and construction began on the Walmart.
ON WITH THE SHOW
Blood ran hot on March 29, 1956, at the Club 78. It was a convoluted story of a man (Perkins) who was accused of ramming his car against that of another man (Ninerson) and in the process breaking a window at the Club 78. This story was mixed up with another story about a man trying to free his dog from the pound, so it was difficult to get the facts straight, but at least we have the street address and the first hit on the Strib database. (Minneapolis Star, March 30, 1956)
The name of the place seemed to go back and forth between Club 78 and Conrad’s Club 78. The ad below uses the latter. Music for dancing was provided by the Modern Mics, featuring Bob Burak and Wally Fuller, performing pop songs. This was 1958, the early days of Rock ‘n’ Roll – wonder if this was a roadhouse kind of a place? No food, no alcohol, room for 200!
On August 14, 1958, Will Jones referred to the place as Conrad’s Club 78. An article in the Minneapolis Star on January 26, 1963, reveals that the owner was Harold Conrad. Conrad died on June 10, 1963, at the age of 49. His home address was the same as the bar.
The Twin City Tenpin of November 1964 included an ad welcoming bowlers; the ad shows there was live music and dancing every Thursday through Sunday and that the club had a capacity of 200.
Fire destroyed the vacant Club 78 on March 28, 1967. It had been vacant for two or three months. It was described as a once-popular, one story, wood framed dance hall. (Minneapolis Tribune, March 29, 1967)
707 Olson Memorial Highway. Opened August 1943 by William “Bill” Freeman – “For an evening of fun.” This site had previously been a hardware store, beauty salon, and Bill’s Smoke Shop. In March 1945 Freeman was fined $100 because a pinball machine on the club premises paid off nickels instead of trade tokens. The machine was found by Oscar Eidern, new Minneapolis police morals squad chief.
Club DeLuxe was located in Spring Park, Minnesota.
It dates from about June 1947.
It was for sale in May 1948; the ad said it had a dining room, bar, dance hall, and three bedroom apartment on a one-acre lot. A 1949 ad said it had three dining rooms, it seated 225 people, and that it was established 27 years ago (computes to 1922).
John Mellin was the proprietor in 1950. He was given 30 days in jail for selling beer to minors.
The club was for sale again in 1952 when the owner was called back to service – presumably drafted into the Korean War.
Another ad to sell in November 1954 says the club has had the same owner for 18 years (1936).
South St. Paul
334 East Lake Street in Minneapolis, showcased rhythm & blues.
This page is mostly a placeholder for the music venues at 20 University Ave. SE in Minneapolis.
Permit cards start at 1888, when it was built as a Masonic Temple. At some point it became one of many Norden Halls, a kind of Norwegian Masonic equivalent, as far as I can tell. There were two buildings on the lot, at 20 and 22 University Ave. SE., both three stories and both made of brick.
As Norden Hall, it would have been the host of private parties, balls, and dances, as well as meetings.
WHITE SWAN TAVERN
The White Swan went into the space in about February 1933, but ran into trouble in May of the same year, when the holder of the cafe and cigarette permits, Mrs. George Maish, was recommended for denial for renewal for said permits. She was allowed to stay open until midnight on May 13, 1933, in order to get rid of her stock. What she did to precipitate this predicament was unclear.
By October 1933, the next night club was installed, this one managed by none other than Augie Ratner.
In April 1943 we see ads for the East Side Christian Center.
Both this building and its neighbor were demolished in about February 1961. Although this was about the same time as the Gateway Clearance, other buildings from the turn of the last century remain in that area. These buildings appear to have been replaced by condos built in 2006, but don’t quote me because the addresses have changed.
Demolished were two buildings, according to the permit cards:
- One building measured 24 x 90 x 16
- The other measured 50 x 100 x 40
Yes, Minneapolis had its own Coconut Grove! Near 6th Street over Brady’s, later Schinder’s, newsstand. It had a 14-piece orchestra and a chorus line of eight girls. “Walk up a flight and save a dollar.” In the 1930s it was frequented by gangsters and featured the music of Norvy Mulligan’s 12-piece band.
THE LEGEND OF COFFEE DAN
Coffee Dan was Daniel Davis, who opened a cabaret in San Francisco in 1879. It operated in various locations in that city until the 1950s, by Dan’s son John after Dan died in 1917. During Prohibition it was a raucous Speakeasy, and the devil drink was delivered into coffee cups (a practice also replicated here at the El Patio and probably many other places around town). Coffee Dans were opened around the country. See more history of this colorful place Here. The photo of Coffee Dan is from that website.
A 1925 story in the Minneapolis Tribune identified Coffee Dan Davis as “king of the night restaurants,” and “who had as much money as anybody on the West coast.”
In October 1927 the State Theater presented “A Night at Coffee Dan’s,” the first all-talking short starring William Demarest (yes, Uncle Charley of “My Three Sons”), Nita Martan, and Ray Mayer.
In February 1928 “The Jazz Singer” came to Minneapolis at the State Theater, and it was noted in the Minneapolis Star that some of the scenes were filmed at Coffee Dan’s in San Francisco. In March 1929 there was even a record of the same name.
COFFEE DAN’S COMES TO MINNEAPOLIS
The Minneapolis venue held its Grand Opening on September 23 and 24, 1932, about six months before Prohibition ended.
The Minneapolis venue could hold 450 people. It was owned by Frank Falk/Fox and Otto Schimmer.
Musicians such as Hazel Mack and her Sweetheart Revue, Maurice Piche and his Melodians, and the Midshipman played there.
In July 1933 the cafe began heavily advertising its Italian spaghetti – perhaps a cheap entree in Depression times.
On May 22, 1935, Frank Fox and Fan Dancer Ruby Bae were arrested at Coffee Dan’s by “Der Fuehrer Al Palmerstein” of the Minneapolis Morals Squad, saying Miss Bae had too much dance and not enough fan. Miss Bae protested she had done the same dance at a Police stag dinner and no one objected, but Police officials said the stag dance was more tame. Unnamed Police sources told the papers Miss Bae’s dance at the stag was more explicit, but she was convicted of disorderly conduct and Mr. Fox was found guilty of lewd and indecent conduct for allowing the dance to go on. They were each fined $50 or 30 days in the workhouse. Each paid the fine. Coffee Dan’s its liquor license was pulled on May 27, 1935.
Coffee Dan’s was succeeded at 509 Hennepin by Club Lido, also with “Snooze” Kennard at the helm.
The Coffeehouse Extempore has had many lives and locations. Please Contact Me for additions, corrections, or stories about the Extemp.
SMILEY’S POINT – 2200 RIVERSIDE
The Extemp, as it was known as, opened in April 1965 at 2200 Riverside Ave., on the West Bank by the U of M. It was an old apartment with seven rooms, on the second floor over the Smiley’s Point Variety Store/Restaurant. The property is now vacant land owned by Fairview Hospital.
An article by Allen Holbert in the Minneapolis Tribune dated July 3, 1966, stated that it “was founded by a group of friends who wanted a place where people from various backgrounds, age groups, occupations and religions could meet informally for conversation and companionship in a relaxed atmosphere.” Another source says that it was opened and run by a group of laymen and clergymen. It included a small snack bar, a chess room, rooms for conversation, a room for listening to records, a library, and a gallery. The gallery space, initially an art gallery, quickly became the place for musical performances. Holbert wrote, “The Extempore is affiliated with the Coffeehouse Association, which includes some 40 other similar organizations throughout the United States.” A 1969 article in the Tribune said, “Later the hippies moved in and in the fall of 1967 the cafe closed after acquiring a reputation as a center of drug traffic on the West Bank.”
Later in 1967 it reopened under the auspices of youth workers from the American Lutheran Church. The hippies were not drawn to it.
623 CEDAR AVE.
In May 1968 it moved to the basement of a three-story building at 623 Cedar Ave.
In January 1969 the Cafe was taken over by the West Bank Campus Ministry (WBCM), a loosely organized group of campus religious organization “to give a unified thrust to work with the hippie community.” Members were the Lutheran Campus Ministry, Newman Center, Episcopal Foundation, United Campus Christian Fellowship, Methodist Campus Ministry, University Baptist Church, University Lutheran Chapel (Missouri Synod), Covenant Campus Ministry and Assembly of God Campus Ministry. The Cafe was run by Rev. Gordon Dahl, head of the Lutheran Campus Ministry. The WBCM was also opening other services for the growing runaway and dropout population.
The music spaces in all locations was always called “The Gallery.” Live folk and rock was featured nightly from 8 pm to 2 am with light refreshments offered. The cafe also hosted discussion sessions, club and community meetings, experimental religious services, and courses for the Free University, a self-education program run by university professors and students. Courses included Nihilism Now, Philosophy of Sex, and Existential Christianity.
The feeling and character of the Extemp in 1969 can be no better expressed than by Dakota Dave Hull, who came to Minneapolis from Fargo at the age of 19. Please take the time to read his story Here.
On January 7, 1970, fire destroyed the building at 623 Cedar. It started at 4 am in weather that was -14 with a -48 wind chill. The result was a building that had turned into a solid block of ice. Gas service had to be turned off in the neighborhood, forcing people to find shelter for several days.
JIM’S BAR – 623 CEDAR AVE.
On the same night of the fire at 623 Cedar, the Extemp reopened at the abandoned Jim’s Bar at 1500 So. 6th Street. There doesn’t seem to be a photo of this location, other than the photo below Extemp sign hanging on the tile wall. Steve Dobbelman notes that “the wooden Extempore sign was still hanging iced over in the arched doorway of the burned-out building. It was saved and moved to each location.” It’s not known who made the sign or what happened to it.
325 CEDAR AVE.
In July 1970 the Extemp moved to 325 Cedar Ave.
The building had nine rooms on two floors; confusing enough that a map was included in the monthly calendar!
In 1971 Young Adult Centers, Inc. was incorporated to run the Extemp. Created as a non-profit organization, the Extemp was designed to be a place where young artists could perform prose, poetry and music to develop their talents. Run by volunteers and a part-time staff, the Coffeehouse became a well-known spot where musicians and others on the coffee house circuit could perform. Financial problems forced changes to professionalize management in order to attract investors.
In April 1973 a fire necessitated the closing of the entire second floor. After two months of volunteer repairs, all but two of the nine rooms were open.
LIVE AT THE EXTEMP
In 1975 Steve Dobbelman produced an album of songs, all recorded at 325 Cedar. This LP is a must for any local music collection and might cost a bit.
Sean Blackburn and David Hughes:
- Tribute to a Drifter
- Follow Your Own Heart
- Next Best Thing to Being There
- Little Town
- Coke Cans and Bottled Beer
- The River
- Baby Lover
- Lonesome Picker
- Streamline Cannonball
Dakota Dave Hull and Peter Ostroushko:
- My Name is Death
- Nine Year Waltz
In 1982 the City of Minneapolis granted $33,205 to purchase and renovate the building at 325 Cedar. With further fundraising, the building was closed for the summer of 1986 for major renovations, it was announced.
But fall came and the building wasn’t purchased and the Coffeehouse Extempore as it was conceived was no more. A one-sentence notice by Jon Bream on September 19, 1986, reported that the Coffeehouse Extempore would relocate to the Cedar Theater (416 Cedar Ave.) the following weekend. The next listings were for “Extempore Concerts” at the theater. And on December 5, 1986, Bream reported that the theater had recently been transformed into the “Extempore night club.” Ouch.
THE END OF THE EXTEMP
Facing a crushing $176,0000 in debt, unrelenting overhead, and a changing demographic, on August 26, 1987, the 14-member Board of the Extemp voted to close its doors. The final performance was held by Gordon Bok on Thursday, September 3, 1987. Concert scheduled by Maria Muldaur for September 12 and 13 were moved to the Blues Saloon in St. Paul.
The Coffeehouse Extempore existed in five different locations on the West Bank over the years, providing folk music, comedy, and the companionship not available in a cell phone of today.
Thank you to Steve Dobbelman and Dakota Dave Hull for their assistance and information, and see the Extempore Coffeehouse Facebook page!
2239 Ford Parkway, St. Paul. 1963: Musical Entertainment. 1969: The Internationals Quartet.
444 Wabasha in St. Paul: jazz venue in 1944.
The Coliseum Ballroom was located in the (Lake Street) Coliseum Building at 2708 E. Lake Street.
The 70,000-square-foot, five-story Art Deco building was built in 1917 as Freeman’s Department Store.
It had a huge ballroom with high ceilings on the second floor; ads can be found for dances back to at least 1922.
In 1967 it had Old Time Dancing.
In 1968 it was age 28+ “Smooth Dancing.”
The large building held many businesses, such as Podany’s Office Furniture, and doctors’ and dentists’ offices.
It also served as rehearsal space for music groups.
The Coliseum Pavilion/Roller Rink was at 449 Lexington Parkway at University, St. Paul. With 25,000 sq. ft. of dance floor, it hosted dance marathons in the 1920s and ’30s. Wally Erickson’s Coliseum Orchestra was the house band for most of the 1920s and early ’30s. It was the site of many dances held by the black community in the 1920s. It became a roller skating rink until it closed in 1958, owned by Johnny Lane.
The Coliseum was part of the left field fence for the Lexington Ball Park and patrons could often hear the sound of baseballs hitting the roof. 1930 MNHS. Thanks, Rick Schlosser. The ballpark was demolished in 1958 and the site became a Red Owl Grocery Store. Presumably the Coliseum went at the same time.
Sue Tad Nelson’s father, Sam Spector worked at the St. Paul Coliseum – Sue provided the two photos below, with her father at the left in both of them:
522 Marquette Ave. Dancing every evening except Sunday. Possible that it opened in December 1915.
The original Colony Club was a night club in New York, and was replicated at least a couple of times here in the Twin Cities.
WHITE BEAR LAKE
Joined at the Hip describes a club in White Bear Lake as one of the most exclusive swanky night clubs in the Northwest in December 1938. The club was located 13 miles from Dale and Rondo Streets, just a half hour drive on Highway 61.
Could this record be from the White Bear Lake Colony Club?
Another Colony Club was a short-lived night club that succeeded a Miller’s Cafe in 1952. Click here for those details.
St. Paul. 1946
St. Paul: Home of the Wolverines.
Lake Minnetonka. Site of dances in the Excelsior area in the 1920s.
(More to come on this post)
This building, dated to 1954 by the County, has had a lot of different names and several different addresses. Amazingly, it is still in use today! The address seemed to change a lot, although the building never moved… It’s just that Hudson Road underwent many changes on its way to Highway 94.
- Highway 12
- 2210 Hudson Road
- 2210 Old Hudson Road
- 2181 Suburban Ave.
And the building had many residents, including:
- George Conroy’s
- King’s Inn
- Chain Link
- Studio 94
Conroy’s opened in 1956.
Jeff Dayton posted the following:
This is an artist rendering of an ad for George Conroy’s on Highway 12 (now I-94) across from Sun Ray Shopping Center. My grandparents owned it and I loved working there as a kid. Note the Monday chicken dinner special for $1.85!
Mr. and Mrs. George A. Conroy were the in-laws of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Dayton, Jeff’s parents.
Jeff remembers that the future Joan Kroc worked as a hostess at Conroy’s.
Mary on Facebook remembers that the glass dome on top had to be covered with a tarp because it reflected the sun and was a problem for planes flying to Holman Field or Lake Elmo’s airport.
The restaurant was heavily advertised in Select magazine, with this distinctive drawing:
Music tended toward jazz, with the Gene Eyman Quartet providing the entertainment for many years. In May 1961, an ad featured Don Anderson on jazz harp.
In January 1962, Conroy’s had joined the Twist fad, announcing “It’s all new music for dancing at George Conroy’s!” The Twisters (an originally-named group) performed every Tuesday, and the Kings Men were on every Friday and Saturday. Starting March 2, 1962, Dr. Henry Blackburn would make his debut, playing his Sidney Bechet Straight Soprano Saxophone with his quartet.
The restaurant closed in 1965.
The first evidence of The Knights is in May 1967, where it is advertised as a Lebanese restaurant. Shish-kebab was served among the palms and beaded curtains…. or you could get a steak. (Minneapolis Tribune, May 7, 1967)
It was still The Knights in January 1968.
In an article dated December 11, 1970, Don Morrison of the Star reported that he went to check out the new St. Paul branch of the King’s Inn, only to find that it was the old Conroy’s. Owner George Theros, owner of the St. Louis Park restaurant of the same name, had put $250,000 into the St. Paul location – “not as a gaudy display, but as class, as understated opulence.”
The main, formal dining room (called the Archives, one of the things I wouldn’t have done) is a gracious, subdued area of well-dressed tables and banquettes. The walls are lined with bookshelves. OK, the books are sawed in half and glued into place, but they provide the friendly restful feel that any book-lined room has.
Artful partitioning separates this from two other dining rooms that abut it. One is an informal but nice cafe. The other, also screened off, is a black-leather, masculine-clubby sort of place.
Across the lobby is the cocktail lounge. It is furnished in overstuffed chairs, grouped into gracious agglutinations. The walls are luxuriantly adorned with dado-framed silk (or so I thin: I was too comfortable in my easy chair to go look closely) for an elegant living room effect. It is, simply, a beautiful room.
The menu was identical to that in St. Louis Park. At the time, Manny DeSilva, a popular local musician, was entertaining in the piano bar.
The Chain Link was a country bar, in service from about 1972 to 1978. It was owned by Gerry Landreville. Someone named Big Paul Groettum was known to have worked there. Young adults from the nearby 3M facility stopped by after work and had a great time, they remember!
The bands included:
- American Grease
- Good Vibrations
- Rockin’ Hollywoods
- White Sidewalls
- Free and Easy
The ad below doesn’t look very good and I don’t know where it came from, but doing a search for “Chain Link” mostly gets you a lot of ads for fencing…
Locked in the Cooler
One of those tragedies that sounds like it belongs on a sitcom happened on Sunday night, November 26, 1972, when two robbers set their sights on the Chain Link Bar. Four people working there were forced to go down into the basement: owner Gerald D. Landreville, his wife Jo Anne, employee Laverne Landreville, and employee Quentin Bailey. All four were told to strip to their underwear, and were locked in the cooler.
The holdup men got away with Mrs. Landreville’s wedding rings ($1,200), Mr. Landreville’s watch ($125) and his two diamond rings ($180), Bailey’s watch ($100), and everyone’s wallets (value unknown).
The story went out on the Associated Press, but according to newspapers.com, it was only picked up by five papers (none in the ‘Cities): Bismarck, Sioux Falls, Fergus Falls, Winona, and the Huron (SD) Daily Plainsman. Each had just a bit different headline about being in their undies in the cooler. Just as well.
Studio 94 was a disco, named after its proximity to Interstate 94. It was one of the few places in town that catered to a black clientele. It was active from about 1979 to 1982.
Palomino returned to the country theme, riding until about 1992.
BATTLE CREEK HEAD START
As of 2018, the building has been the home of Battle Creek Head Start.
And Russ Hanson, the King of before and after, has made two juxtapositions for us:
In the Google Earth photo below you can see the darker roof as the original outline of the building and the “dome” on top is clearly visible. The front has been added later.
Photo merge by me (Russ) using a Google Earth view and Jeff Dayton’s original advertisement.
Thank you, Russ, Jeff, and everyone on Facebook who helped solve this puzzle!
Cooks’ and Waiters’ Club was an after-hours jazz and gambling house, probably on South Sixth Street, Minneapolis.
This page concerns all of the businesses I could find at 413 Hennepin Ave., including a couple that were on the second floor. The building was erected in 1888 and divided into a store and a restaurant. Businesses in the 415 Hennepin side are on a separate page under the Saddle Bar.
NEW PALACE CAFE
James Tsiolis opened the New Palace Cafe on October 27, 1916. The place held 40 tables and could serve 150 customers. The Tribune waxed poetic:
Myriads of electric lights will make this place a Broadway drawing card to hundreds of famished pedestrians who will appease their hunger with substantial viands and delicacies as would tickle the palate of the most exacting connoisseur in gastronomy.
On May 2, 1930, it was announced that the New Palace Cafe faced bankruptcy because of unpaid debts. And indeed, its fixtures were advertised for sale that June.
The next iteration was the Paramount Cafe, which opened in July 1930. It was apparently still owned by Tsiolis. On September 28, 1930, the Paramount had a serious fire, and a firefighter broke his back in the course of fighting the fire. Since two other properties belonging to Tsiolis had burned down and he had collected considerable insurance payoffs, he was dubbed “King Torch” in the press, and investigated heavily by the arson squad. In February 1937 he was found guilty of torching the Cafe.
JACK’S RESTAURANT/DOYLE’S CAFE
Jack Doyle ran a place alternately known as Jack’s Restaurant and Doyle’s Cafe, beginning in late December 1935. In January 1938 Doyle’s was the scene of a heroin deal. The perpetrators were William (Big Bill) Hildebrandt and Joe (Sixty) Katz.
On October 31, 1942, yet another spectacular fire occurred at the site. Spilled grease caught fire and lit up Hennepin Ave. This time one firefighter was killed and three were hurt during the two-hour battle to kill the flames.
In July 1945, Doyle’s was temporarily closed down as Jack was accused of running a gambling house. Interestingly, his lawyer was A.M. Cary, Attorney to the Mob. On July 21, 1945, the Tribune ran a banner headline, “Race Books Closed at Jack’s.”
“‘Cut it Out’ Warns Vice Squad Chief.” Jack’s was described as “one of the biggest, most notorious gambling spots in Minneapolis. Jack was urged to take a long vacation, and that the police department would not object if he stayed away permanently.
Jack’s rolled on, though, with items describing a wife throwing a brick through the window because her date wouldn’t pay the bill (July 1946).
The restaurant (open all night) was still called Jack’s in December 1948, but the operator was named as Arthur Berenson. The building was owned by Mrs. Mabel Bortz. On May 24 of that year, yet another fire killed a firefighter and injured three others.
In June 1959 Sam Polski leased the shop and ran a Pit Bar-B-Q busines until May of 1962. The place was prone to crime and prostitution, and in January 1963 Polski was ordered to show cause why it shouldn’t be shut down. Polski responded that he was going to closed on March 1, 1963. Fixtures were advertised for sale on March 31, 1963.
Meanwhile, the Gateway was being demolished, and the finite number of liquor licenses were up for grabs. The liquor license from the famed Persian Palms was transferred to the Pit Bar-B-Q in December 1962, but was not immediately used.
THE COPPER SQUIRREL
The Copper Squirrel was one of those old, venerable downtown bars that made Hennepin Ave. the hub of nightlife in the 1960s and ’70s. It was owned by Harry “Papa” Smull, described as an associate of Kid Cann (Minneapolis Star, November 19, 1975) who had owned the Persian Palms. At one time members of Smull’s family had owned seven liquor licenses, in violation of city ordinance. (Minneapolis Tribune, April 14, 1976).
The Copper Squirrel opened in August 1963. On September 13, Will Jones reported that the new place had
the old Persian Palms license, the old management, and for a week or so they had what looked like the same old dancing girls and lady MC working there. The only thing new was the address and the shining new wood and copper decor. But the old shows didn’t look right in the new setting, and the management nervously began shuffling acts. This week a Chicago coffeehouse comic was imported. He worked one night, was paid off for the week, and sent back to Chicago. Now they’ve brought in the Hank Hazlett Trio to swing a little, and it looks as though those three will stay awhile. And the show in the back room features Greta Gibson, Miss Sax Appeal, a tall, stacked blonde who blows everything from a Hungarian czardas to “Night Train” on a rackful of five saxophones…
Harry Smull died in April 1972 and the bar became the property of his estate.
By 1977 the Copper Squirrel had become a gay bar called the Sun Disco. (Minneapolis Star, November 16, 1977). In June 1981 it was described as the only drag bar in the Twin Cities.
NSP bought the building and the Andrews Hotel next door in August 1983. On January 15, 1984, dynamite made quick work of the buildings, flattening them in 7 seconds.
On August 2, the Squirrel opened More Upstairs, a jazz listening room located on the second floor of the building. The first combo was Ira Pettiford’s Trio. But as usual, jazz didn’t draw, and by December the room was presenting rock ‘n’ roll.
LITTLE NASHVILLE CLUB
In February 1969, More Upstairs was replaced with the Little Nashville Club, which was above both the Copper Squirrel and the adjacent Saddle Bar at 415 Hennepin. The address of the Little Nashville Club was given as 413 1/2 Hennepin. Johnnie White was one of the acts in 1969.
The Copper Stein was a restaurant located in the Tonka Terrace Shopping Center, at Highway 7 and County Road 9 in Tonka Bay. The shopping center opened on October 1, 1955.
The first entry found in the Minneapolis papers was on March 1, 1958. It perhaps replaced the early Terrace Kitchens. That first ad billed it as a smorgasbord, which was the set-up on Sundays. The next entry (and these are just classified ads) in May 1958 called it a supper club.
It was owned by brothers-in-law Ray Koberstein and Keith Whitney. Koberstein was a barber, and Whitney was a blacktop contractor, according to Will Jones. (Minneapolis Tribune, June 2, 1958)
Jones described it as:
a place full of dark wood, gleaming copper, round tables and low-beamed-ceiling gemutlichheit.
Matchbook below posted by Luke Lukens.
FOOD AND DRINK AT THE COPPER STEIN
Koberstein explained to Jones,
When we started, what we thought we were running was a high-class 3.2 place, but because of the setting, I guess, people kept asking for food.
Chef Karl Lhotsky was recruited, and set to making his European specialties, such as chicken a la pheasant, goulash, chicken Kiev, Russian-style turkey breast, tournedos of beef, and “that unbeatable dessert,” palachinky.
As for drinks, it was set-ups only at first. Diners who brought wine were provided with ice buckets and “handsome crystal.” Those who wanted mixed drinks brought the essentials and were served ice, chilled glasses, mixing implements, olives, and cherries.
MUSIC AT THE COPPER STEIN
Although there was music at the restaurant/supper club, it was not advertised, and not what people remember.
The few references to music I did find were:
The May 1958 ad featured Skeets Reiman at the piano bar in the Cider Cellar on Fridays and Saturdays.
Another source says that Excelsior native Jim Eddy performed at the club.
Dancing was added to the New Year’s Eve Smorgasbord in 1958, reported Will Jones.
And there was this early ad for the piano bar:
In April 1959, Cedric Adams reported that the Copper Stein was switching to a private club. This may have been an attempt to get a liquor license. The private club status was dropped in December 1959.
In July 1963, the Tonka Terrace Shopping Center was renamed Country Club Plaza.
On September 10, 1963, a fire burned out two rooms and caused fire damage to a third. Keith Whitney was identified as the owner, and he estimated the damage at $60,000 to $70,000. The grand reopening was on December 6, 1963 – by this time the development was called Minnetonka Plaza.
In October 1964, an ad identified it as Aldritt’s Copper Stein Restaurant.
In May 1965 it was called Murphy’s Copper Stein.
In July 1979, the owners were Richard and Betty Wakefield.
The Copper Stein closed, to become a variety of other eateries, in March 1997.
Golden Valley. Not sure about this, but I have a picture of the billboard, so here goes!
16 So. Sixth Street, Minneapolis. Swing Lounge, 1970.
The Coronado Cafe was located at 1581 University Ave. (at Snelling) in St. Paul. Many thanks to Bob Jackson for information for this page!
The St. Paul papers are not online, but a search through the Minneapolis database finds people living at this address as early as 1911.
From at least 1924 to 1930 it was A.F. Kurth’s Pharmacy
The first mention of the cafe is in February 1939 when there is a robbery (love those robbery reports). At first it was a going nightclub.
After a few upscale ads like this, the notices quickly became more like classified ads. But there were these matchbooks:
And thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society, we know what the place looked like;
In 1959, Lindy’s Steakhouse was established in the basement. The only thing on the menu was sirloin steak – your only choice was what size you wanted.
A search of the address shows that the cafe probably went out of business in about 1962. It’s a big building, so it may have been divided into several businesses.
In September 1962 the building became the home of the Foam Furniture Center.
In April 1968 it was the Wig Warehouse.
In January 1969 it was Ron’s Beauty Salon.
In November 1973 it became the Midway Branch of First Federal Savings and Loan, which then became Midwest Federal.
The contents of Midwest Federal were auctioned off on May 24, 1991.
The site is now a CVS Drug Store. As it began.
This is the story of 718 Sixth Ave. No. and the many night clubs that inhabited the building.
EARLY BUILDING HISTORY
In 1906, a store formerly located at 701 Sixth Ave. N was moved on the property. It was moved off the property in 1910.
In 1910, a 24’ by 80’ frame movie theater was built on the site.
In 1918, the theater was altered and made into an auto shop.
Sometime between 1918 and 1922, that building was demolished.
In December 1921, a 25’ by 90’ brick store was built. An identical addition was built two weeks later; presumably the second story.
On March 31, 1922, a group of black citizens presented a petition to the City Council asking for the right to open a theater at 718 for the exclusive use of blacks. A counter petition was filed by property owners claiming that an exclusive theater was not needed.
THE SOCIAL INN
In August 1922, the building hosted the Social Inn. The Social Inn was owned by Andrew J. Claughton and Lee R. Wheeler, with James Ellis, Manager.
Did it move to 418 Sixth Ave No. by December 1922, or was that a typo?
Permit card entries describe the building as a store through 1923.
In October 1923, the building was the home of the Northwestern Waiters’ Club. A scandal appeared when policemen were accused of drunkenness and tipping members of the club off of an upcoming raid.
In November 1923, a man named H.M. Robe was given 30 days in the workhouse for running a gambling house in the building.
In October 1924 – 1930, the building was the headquarters for the Northwestern Porters and Waiters’ Club, “a Negro rendezvous.” The Club was in the news in 1924 because a crap game had ended in gunfire.
An article dated July 18, 1925, reported that the Union Co-operative Bakery would open in the building on that date. The Permit card bears that out.
THE COTTON CLUB
Named after the famous Cotton Club in New York, this Cotton Club was on Sixth Ave. No. in Minneapolis – not to be confused with the Cotton Club in St. Louis Park, or the Cotton Club in St. Paul. This was the most famous, for its placement “On the Avenue,” and for its infamous deadly shooting in 1928.
The Cotton Club was a “Chicken Shack.” Chicken shacks were common during Prohibition and this one had chicken and dancing and fighting all night. A newspaper account reported that the Cotton Club was operated by William Pugh, “a Negro.” It is unclear when the Cotton Club opened. It was one of many “Black and Tan” clubs on “The Avenue” that featured entertainment, late nights, gambling, and illegal spirits (or at least setups for your own).
THE SHOOTING AT THE COTTON CLUB
The following account comes from several sources: contemporary newspaper accounts, research by Jeff Neuberger, and a contemporary account by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis:
On February 3, 1928, at about 4 am, Jack Sackter, riding in a taxi, flagged down two Minneapolis Police Officers. James H. Trepanier, age 32, had been a patrolman for five years. He had been cited for bravery in the capture of a bandit in 1924. He had served as a motorcycle policemen prior to his transfer to the North Side precinct.
Patrolman Bernard Wynne, age 39, was a World War hero. He had been wounded in a gunfight two years earlier in which Minneapolis Police Sergeant Michael Lawrence was killed, and Wynne had been shot three times in the legs.
Sackter told the officers he had been assaulted by a group of men in the Cotton Club. There were two versions of what caused Sackter to bring the police to the club. Sackter maintained he was friends with Valencia Nay, one of the entertainers at the club, and as he spoke to her at his table, the notorious bootlegger Isadore Blumenfeld (aka “Kid Cann,” erroneously identified as his brother Harry Bloom in police and news reports) told Sackter to leave her alone.
Another man in Cann’s party, Verne Miller, struck Sackter with a gun. Miller, a former Sheriff from Beadle County, South Dakota, had become a bootlegger, bank robber, and embezzler, and had quite a bit of money on him. The second version is that Sackter said something very offensive to Ms. Nay and Miller hit him for insulting her.
The following is a contemporary account of what happened, from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis:
Patrolmen Trepanier and Wynne walked into the cabaret, drew their pistols, and commanded patrons of the cafe to line up to be searched for pistols.
“Call the wagon while I search them,” Officer Trepanier told Officer Wynne.
As Trepanier started to search the first patron in line and Wynne walked to the telephone, a table was overturned in one end of the cabaret. Five men were standing around the overturned table.
There was a tense moment while the two police and five men glared at each other. Then, with a sudden movement, one of the men drew a pistol and opened fire on the officers. In a second several other pistols were drawn in the crowd.
At the first shot, Officer Trepanier fell to the floor, severely wounded, and after two or three
more shots, Office Wynne staggered when a bullet struck his leg. Both patrolmen returned the fire.
For a moment pandemonium reigned. Pistols barked and filled the small hall with their roar.
Bullets thudded into the walls, splintered chairs and tables and broke out windows.
Women and men alike screamed, dodging, scurrying, and fighting to cover. Patrons turned over tables and cowered behind them, fear in their eyes.
Officer Trepanier, stretched on the floor, groaning from his wounds, braced his right arm
with his left hand and emptied his pistol at armed men in the place.
Officer Wynne only staggered when a bullet struck his leg. He emptied his pistol at the crowd and, despite the pain of his wound, brought them to order. Waving his empty pistol at the disordered mob, he commanded:
“Now all of you line up here and be quiet.” He called the patrol wagon and loaded the thirty remaining patrons of the cabaret into it, directing that they be taken to police headquarters.
At headquarters, all but eight were released. These eight were lodged in jail and questioned after three pistols were seized from them.
Detectives and gun squads were sent out through the city seeking other persons believed to have escaped during the gunfight. On a tip from a man whose car was found standing in front of the cabaret, detectives were sent to St. Paul in search of three men believed to have been companions of the man said to have started the shooting.
Officer Trepanier was the most seriously injured. Miller’s bullet had struck him in the right side of the abdomen, ripped a 3-inch laceration in the liver, tore off the top of the gall bladder, lacerated the stomach, severed the duodenum, smashed through the right kidney, and hit the fourth lumbar vertebrae, producing a hemorrhage in the spinal cord and stopped just under the skin on the left side. More than a dozen police officers lined up to give blood to save his life. Officer Trepanier was in the hospital numerous times. After he had partially recovered, he opened a jewelry store at Lake Street and Chicago Ave. South, but soon afterward went back to the hospital. Later, he moved his jewelry repair bench to Veterans’ Hospital where he designed and made jewelry and repaired watches when able to sit up. He waged a ten-year fight against his paralysis, but he had grown steadily worse for more than a year, and finally succumbed on September 20, 1938, at the U.S. Veterans’ Hospital. He was 42 years old when he died. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.
On May 15, 1938, Officer Bernard Wynne came home after assisting at a double drowning in the Mississippi River at 51st and Lyndale North and committed suicide.
The Grand Jury indicted Miller, Blumenfeld, Robert Kennedy, and R.L. Lawler on first degree assault charges.
Verne Miller was never apprehended for the shooting of the two officers, despite a manhunt with 1,500 fliers distributed, mostly over the Northwest. Verne Miller would be found murdered by other gangsters outside of Detroit on November 28, 1933.
One of Wynne’s shots hit Kid Cann in the thigh as he ran for the door. Kid Cann was taken to General hospital, as were the two police officers. Kid Cann was held without charge for days and then held for trial, accused of participating in the gunfight, but in October 1928, Hennepin County Attorney Floyd B. Olson dropped the prosecution, citing the differing stories about the relationship between Sackter and Nay.
Kennedy and Lawler were not captured until late April. One was a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, fight manager and one was a former St. Paul barkeeper.
ABOUT VALENCIA NAY
Ever the intrepid historian with insatiable curiosity, Jeff Neuberger dug deeper into the story of the cause of the ruckus, Ms. Valencia Nay. I considered doing this myself, so I’m glad he beat me to it!
News stories at the time list her as living at 538 James Ave. N. Checking records, he also found a Hurl Nay at that address. The Nay family was originally from Missouri: Hurl, his twin brother Harry, their older brother Lawrence, and Lawrence’s wife Gladys. Valencia may have either been a sister or Hurl’s wife. They were one of many acts that performed a musical comedy called “Shufflin’ Sam from Alabam” that toured all over the country. The show included the Creole Chorus, a group of female singers, and the Memphis Blue Demons Jazz band. There were also dancers doing the Charleston or the Black Bottom. People came to see the show for the comedy, the music, and the pretty girls.
Unfortunately, the Nays met a bad end. On March 15, 1934, while driving home from a performance at the Heidelberg Club in Flint, Michigan, about 2:15 am, the Nay brothers’ car was struck by a Great Western train. Lawrence, Gladys, Hurl, and Harry were killed. A Gipsie Nay was injured, as was Minnie Smith, 19. There was no mention of Valencia.
As a result of the shooting:
- Police Chief Frank W. Brunskill ordered that “entertainments in cafes and night clubs be brought to a close at midnight hereafter.” The order applied across the city, not just on 6th Ave. No. where “a number of all-night restaurants operate.” “Many of the eating establishments cater to a night trade a no hour for their closing can be set, Captain Nick Smith of the North side explained. But singing, dancing and the like will have to stop at midnight, according to the order.”
- Brunskill ordered the Cotton Club establishment closed and declared his intentions to close every similar place in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, every cabaret in the city was under police observation.
- On April 17, 1928, the City Council revoked the license of Horace Pierson, first floor of 718 Sixth Ave. N, formerly known as the Cotton Club. Presumably this was his restaurant and dance hall license.
- A City Alderman proposed an ordinance requiring that curtains and screens be removed from all chicken shacks, so as to permit a view of the interiors from the street.
April 1928: Serving chicken, Chinese food, entertainment. Presenting Warren & Ellison, direct from Plantation Cafe, Chicago. Best Music in Town.
MAX FELD, GROCERIES:
Evidence of Feld’s grocery store at this location can be found from December 1928 to June 1932. Feld moved his store around to many locations in the area during this time. In the 1932 Minneapolis directory, Feld is listed as a grocer and the second floor is listed as vacant.
Beer became legal on April 7, 1933, and the Club Kongo opened on April 30, 1933. Kay Worcuff was listed on the ad below as the manager, with Bill Pugh as the M.C. Same William Pugh who was the operator of the Cotton Club? The movie “King Kong” was released just about the same time, inspiring the theme for this “Nite Club.”
The presence of Rook Ganz meant this was a going concern!
But on a raid on a number of night clubs on January 14, 1934, proprietess Thera Rutherford was arrested for violating the tavern closing ordinance. She was fined $50 for staying open after 2 am, and her beer license was revoked on April 4, 1934.
The Club Kongo was followed by another African-themed club called Club Morocco. The Grand Opening was on September 15, 1934. “Hotsy Totsy!” Music by the Club Morocco Band, the Northwest’s Favorite Night Club Entertainers. Another Grand Opening announced for December 13, 1934. The owner was Hamlet “Kid” Rowe, according to the ad below.
According to the ad above, the cook was Tiny Holder, formerly of the P&S Chicken Shack. After the Club Morocco was gone, Tiny went back to the P&S:
END OF 718 SIXTH AVE. NORTH
The north side of Sixth Ave. No. was demolished in 1938 for the Sumner Field public housing project. The demolition permit for 718 Sixth Ave. North, with the Club Morocco sign still in the window, was dated September 15, 1938.
The following are a few photos showing the building in various stages before demolition. The first one is unfortunately undated but must be in the early days of the project since the buildings on either side are still there. Thank you to Jeff Neuberger and Alan Slacter for these images.
We wondered what was on that sign that was hanging from the pole on the second floor, but the photo I had was too low resolution to see it clearly. But then we found the original on the Hennepin County Library website, and discovered that it was a gorilla, hanging from the pole, left over from the Club Kongo days back in 1933-1934. What a find! Here’s a close-up.
There is a note on the array of photos taken in 1938 that may indicate that 718 was the last building to be demolished on the north side of the street. Below is a photo of that sad day, September 16, 1938:
Of the many Cotton Clubs in town, this one was perhaps the most obscure and shortest lived. It was in the Kistler Building on Sixth Ave. No. for a very short time – please see the page on the Kistler Building for more information.
In a 1960 article in Select, Leigh Kamman says that Lester Young “spent many nights blowing in the Cotton Club at White Bear.”
Well, this record surfaced, and so we tried to find the Country Lounge.
No success in finding the folks who made the record. One side is on YouTube, and is quite a delight!
There is an establishment called the Country Lounge located at 3590 Hoffman Road in White Bear Lake, which was built in 1965. Whether that was the one on the record – who knows? In 2020, the proprietors say it is not a music venue.
Thanks to all the folks on the Old St. Paul Facebook page for their help! Please contact me if you have any answers to these burning questions!
There were two Covered Wagons, one each in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The Minneapolis Covered Wagon was located at 114 So. 4th St. at Marquette.
The Covered Wagon opened in 1933 – the end of Prohibition and a popular time to start a cafe. The Minnegasco pamphlet below says that the place originally opened two doors north of the 114 4th Street site.
The obituary of James P. Ryan named him as Vice-President of the restaurant from when it opened in 1933 until it closed in 1957.
The photo below appeared in Life Magazine on April 5, 1943. The caption read:
From old frontier days came the inspiration for the delightful Covered Wagon Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Historic guns and pioneer relics adorn the walls, and the booths along the side are designed to resemble such old-time Western institutions as the post office, sheriff’s office and the trading store. The Covered Wagon is also famous for its fine steaks – which are served, of course, with Heinz 57 Beefsteak Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Chili Sauce and other of Heinz wonder-working keystone-labeled condiments.
Hugo Benson was named as the proprietor in 1950. A gossip column in 1958 said that his name was Hugo (Benny) Benson, and that he was a former co-owner.
In October 1953, BeBe Shopp, Miss Hopkins and Miss America 1948, made Barbara Flanagan’s column when she made her home town first stand at the Covered Wagon. BeBe’s instrument was the vibraharp. (Minneapolis Tribune, October 13, 1953)
The caption on the photo below reads:
A small part of the Main Dining Room. Here you will find that real western hospitality that has made the Covered Wagon the Northwest’s favorite for twenty years.
The photo below, perhaps from the same menu, shows the staff in cowboy hats, natch.
A Minnegasco cookbook from 1953 touts the Covered Wagon’s 20th anniversary. On the menu were Mallard Duck, Ring Neck Pheasant, and Hungarian Partridge, but you had to call ahead in the morning so they could go out and shoot it, I guess.
In 1956, music was provided by Loren McNabb and his band on the “Largest and Finest Dance Floor in Town.”
The ad below gives a different address: 34 S. 4th Street. Perhaps because of demolition in the area, patrons had to enter through a different door?
ARTIFACTS FROM THE WAGON
People seem to have a lot of souvenirs of the Covered Wagon, which is natural since it was around for almost 25 years. Here are some of them that have been shared, particularly on Facebook.
Ashtrays shaped like cowboy hats are irresistible! There were identical models for the St. Paul club as well.
Below is a small iron skillet, made by the Lodge Cast Iron Co., says contributor Scott Hartgraves. The company made these small miniature skillets for various companies from the ’30s to the ’50s. The Covered Wagon would have bought the blank miniatures and applied their own decal for resale. Scott says they were usually more ornate than this.
Music doesn’t seem to have been emphasized at the Covered Wagon – this was no Flame Cafe. Maybe people were too loaded down with steak to dance. The house entertainment was the Cow Hands Band, but they are mentioned on both the Minneapolis and St. Paul matchbooks, so maybe there were two of them.
COVERED WAGON MOSEYS ON
In 1956, the Federal Government Services Agency condemned several buildings along Marquette for a new Federal courts building. The GSA offered the Covered Wagon $200,000 for its land, furnishings, and business. The owner, identified as Fritz Benson, countered that the business was worth almost half a million dollars, and a jury was brought in to inspect the building. The amount awarded came to $305,500. (Minneapolis Star, April 25, 1957)
The wrecking permit was taken out on December 1, 1958. The Hennepin County Courthouse, at 110 4th Street So., was built in 1960. The Covered Wagon’s liquor license was transferred to Rusciano’s.
THE LITTLE WAGON
Kevin Flagstad reports that in 1957, new owners Bob and Olive Sorensen moved the restaurant to 420 South 4th Street and renamed it the Little Wagon.
There were Covered Wagons in Minneapolis and in St. Paul.
The St. Paul Covered Wagon was at 320 Wabasha Street. The 1943 ad that included both sites claimed “You Always Enjoy Yourself Here.”
This page covers:
- The Cozy Bar and Lounge
- The Riverview Supper Club
- James T. “Jimmy” Fuller, Sr.
THE COZY BAR
The Cozy Bar and Lounge was located at 522 Plymouth Ave. No.
According to City permit cards, the 24′ by 72′ brick store building was built in 1898. It was apparently built as a saloon, as Henry H. Burfreind had a liquor license at this address going back to 1899. In 1910 it was affiliated with the Gluek Brewing Company, although it could have been from the start. In 1923 the place was closed down as an alleged saloon – Prohibition had gone into force in 1920 – so it became a candy store, as did every other bar in town. In 1932 it was a lunchroom serving hamburgers, and was for sale: “no competition,” claimed the ad. On April 18, 1933, H. Eckfdahl wasted no time getting a liquor license just days after Prohibition ended, again affiliated with Gluek Beer.
In 1935 it was the Red Dot Cafe; Martin William Malzakn was the proprietor and H.F. Barney held the liquor license.
In June 1948, Gluek made alterations to the Red Dot, selling off booths and tables.
THE COZY BAR
The first mention of the Cozy Bar found comes in October 1951; the operator was Gust Wills until at least February of 1954.
And although people don’t think of the Cozy or the North Side as a big polka spot, it was indeed, at least in 1957 to 1963. It was billed as “Minneapolis’s Hottest Polka Spot.” It was owned by polka bandleader Frank Pastuszak, who played the local ballrooms consistently throughout the ‘sixties.
Frank held a mortgage burning party in February 1963 and played with his band the Polka Pals.
In 1963 the bar also sponsored a baseball team.
From 1965 to 1969 there seemed to be a couple shootings or robberies reported every year.
ENTER JAMES FULLER
At one point the Cozy Bar was purchased by James T. “Jimmy” Fuller, Sr. and his wife Margaret Fuller.
An ad from the Minneapolis Spokesman dated April 1967 calls it “Minneapolis’ Newest and Most Exciting Bar and Place of Entertainment. Live Music and Dancing Nightly.”
In the late ’60s it was a major venue for R&B acts (Mojo Buford was a frequent performer) and one of the few black-owned bars in Minneapolis. In 1968 and 1969 other frequent bands performing there were the Amazers and the Blazers.
In July 1972 the Cozy was one of at least three bars that was ordered to close by a group of 20-25 black youths, one reportedly carrying a high-powered rifle. Manager James Gibson said the youths told him to close down the bar and that if he didn’t “somebody would get hurt.” It turned out that the group wanted several black-owned bars to close down that night so patrons would attend a rally to protest the beating of a pregnant black woman at the Aquatennial parade. (Minneapolis Tribune, July 28, 1972)
Around that time the bar was raided by police at 2:30 am and customers were still there, in violation of the 1 am closing time law.
There continued to be shootings and robberies at the Cozy in the early ’70s.
The photos below of the bar in the late 1960s were provided to Secret Stash by James Fuller, Jr.
Below is a photograph of a photograph by famed African-American photographer Charles Chamblis , who took photos of North Minneapolis for decades. The quality isn’t good (I don’t know where the image came from), but it’s the best view I have of the outside of the building.
In March 1977, the building was condemned by Mn/DOT for the construction of I-94 through North Minneapolis.
RIVERVIEW SUPPER CLUB
Fuller sought to transfer his liquor license to a new club, the Riverview Supper Club, located at 2319 West River Road. The transfer was held up by City Alderman Richard Miller. When Miller was replaced on the Council by Patrick Daugherty, the new Alderman “sought reports from city officials on the impact the nightclub would have in the neighborhood and “when the reports came in in his favor, I couldn’t do anything to stop him.'” The transfer was finally approved on March 17, 1978.
The Riverview was built on three acres at the end of West River Road for about $750,000. The land had been the end of the tracks for train engines, and a huge concrete base of an old roundhouse had to be removed, which required two months of excavation. It was located in what was known as the North Washington Industrial Park. Boyd’s on the River and Broadway Pizza soon joined the Riverview in the area. (Minneapolis Star, May 9, 1980)
The building had 11,000 square feet of dining space in a low, square, otherwise nondescript building, with a spectacular view of the Mississippi River through a 50 ft. picture window. Areas of the facility included:
- A large, blue and tan dining room, decorated with river-themed paraphernalia and prints.
- A basement level banquet room.
- A private banquet room on the main floor.
- A bar near the kitchen that serves the seating terraces which face the stage and dance floor
- Another bar, quiet enough for conversation.
ENTERTAINMENT AT THE RIVERVIEW
Fuller designed the club to offer Vegas-style live music, and to make live jazz its drawing card. First Manager Bubbles Holloway said, “We intended to set this place up for listening and dance music, mostly jazz, and not to cater to the disco set, because we believe more people want that and because disco is going down.”
Although the Riverview Supper Club opened in early April, 1980, it had its official Grand Opening on May 10 and 11, 1980, with a show by Broadway star Melba Moore. Moore’s four shows brought in near capacity crowds, and reviewer Michael Anthony found that the facility had “more than adequate sound properties and sightlines.”
The venue offered jazz by Melvin Jordan and Jim Hamilton, and Roberta Davis.
Early name acts included:
- Millie Jackson, July 5-6, 1980
- Stanley Turrentine, July 13-14, 1980
- Count Basie, December 16-17, 1980
- B.B. King, February 25-26, 1981
- Herbie Mann, April 3-4, 1981
- Millie Jackson, April 12-13, 1981
- George Shearing, May 17-18, 1981
- Jazz Festival with Count Basie, August 19, 1981
- Gil Scott-Heron, October 19, 1981
- Doc Severinson, October 27, 1981
- The Stylistics, January 14 – 16, 1982
- Bobby “Blue” Bland, February 14, 1982
- Arthur Prysock, April 8, 1982
- Stanley Turrentine, May 7 – 8, 1982
- Roy Ayers, May 29, 1982
- Patrice Rushen, June 15, 1982
- Bobby “Blue” Bland, September 4, 1982
- Evelyn King, December 14, 1982
The venue began to host boxing matches in about 1983.
After a seeming lull in national acts, they began to appear again in 1988.
- Chi-Lites, June 3, 1988
- Evelyn Champaign King, August 7, 1988
- Bobby Lyle, August 28, 1988
- Bobby “Blue” Bland, January 19, 1992
- Bobby Womack, March 6, 1994
In about February of 1999, the club began to feature comedians from BET’s Def Comedy Jam on Thursday nights.
By January 2000, most of the music was provided by DJs.
VIOLENCE DOGS THE RIVERVIEW
To the chagrin of owner James Fuller, Sr., his dream venue began to become a focus of violence.
On July 9, 1995, Bryan Evan Thomas was murdered in the parking lot of the Riverview from a gunshot wound to the neck. The suspect, Leon M. Perry, was chased and captured by Eric Lukes, an off-duty policeman. Perry was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
On March 23, 1996, robbery suspect Keith L. Jackson was shot and killed by an on-duty policeman in the parking lot of the Riverview.
On May 23, 1998, Gary D. Holmes was killed outside the club by a single gunshot to the back. He had been just outside the front doors and had staggered into the restaurant, where he died. There had been a “skirmish” in the parking lot, and Fuller thought that the killing was gang-related, but this was unconfirmed by police. “Enough is enough and violence of any kind will not be tolerated at our establishment,” said Fuller. (Minneapolis Tribune, May 24, 1998)
THE END COMES TO FULLER’S DREAM
James T. Fuller Sr. died at the age of 89 on December 27, 1999. The club’s management was taken over by his son James Fuller, Jr.
According to Secret Stash, James Fuller Jr. finally closed the bar after three of the club’s unarmed security guards were shot in the winter of 2000. The Riverview’s last day was December 10, 2000. It was torn down and the land was redeveloped into condos, appropriately named the Riverview.
JAMES T. “JIMMY” FULLER, SR.
The man behind the Cozy Bar and the Riverview (and the Regal Tavern before that) was born in Roanoke, Virginia, the son of a coal miner. He attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he met and married his wife Kathleen. James Fuller, Jr. was born in 1938.
The family moved to North Minneapolis, and Fuller worked in the machine shop of the Onan Corporation, where he and co-worker W. Harry Davis sang in the Onan Corporation’s men’s chorus.
Although most people remember the Cozy Bar on Plymouth Ave. in Minneapolis, there was another Cozy Bar at 202 Concord (now Cesar Chavez Street) on the West Side of St. Paul (but not in the City of West St. Paul). I don’t know if it had live music.
By 1969 the proprietor was Herbert Howe. According to tales on Facebook, it was a fun but increasingly dangerous place; one report was that a body was found in a dumpster and a metal detector was installed to find guns and knives.
In 1978 there was a particularly upsetting incident when a customer got into an argument with two other patrons, left and came back with gun, shooting them and then pointing the gun at the bartender, who was the son of the owner. Young Howe killed the assailant with a rifle. The Ramsey County Grand Jury voted not to indict Howe. The patrons who were shot survived.
In 1994 the bar, which had been renamed the Cozy Cantina, was owned by Herbert Howe, Jr. That January the bar’s license was suspended for two weeks when it was discovered that the bartender, a convicted felon, had access to two guns that were kept behind the bar. The gun accidentally discharged and wounded the unruly patron. The suspension was appealed and overturned. Herbie Howe was still the owner in 2002.
The building at 5001 W. 80th Street (now American Blvd.) in Bloomington was built in 1970, according to county records. It is the Southgate Office Plaza, located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highways 100 and 494. In that time, it has gone through a lot of changes.
In 1976 the place was called Daddy’s (or Daddys’ Money). A review from that year lists the lobster dinner at $6.95 and the highest priced dinner at $7.50. Here’s what the reviewer said about the entertainment:
Speaking of waiters and waitresses, they’re only hired if they can sing, dance or play a musical instrument of one kind or another. That’s right. All evening long your entertainment is provided by one waiter or another (and occasionally, but not enough, the manager himself).
Another restaurant to occupy the space was the Criterion, presumably after Daddy’s, since the Criterion had to move from its original location in St. Paul because of a fire in March 1978. Although the popovers were just as good, many folks thought that it just wasn’t the same.
PURPLE ONION SPORTS BAR AND RESTAURANT
This shows up in August 1991, but apparently went bankrupt two months later.
BILLABONG AUSSIE GRILL AND PUB
Opened about August 1993, went bankrupt in November 2006
EL LORO MEXICAN RESTAURANT
The space is now the El Loro Mexican Restaurant, one of several in the Twin Cities.
The Criterion Cafe has a schizophrenic history at best – or maybe a case of multiple personalities. Sorting it out won’t be easy but I’ll give it a try.
The first mention of a Criterion Restaurant in St. Paul found in the Minneapolis papers was in the Tribune, June 25, 1885. Proprietors were listed as H. Nachtscheim and Holmes, and the address was 48 East Seventh Street. Later that year Holmes was gone and the restaurant advertised oysters quite enthusiastically.
On June 25, 1895, another Criterion was mentioned, this time at 246 Nicollet. Someone apparently wanted to burn this one down but was foiled. A few days later the firebugs were successful and two firemen died putting out a conflagration at the McDonald building on First Street in Minneapolis.
One man said that the restaurant opened in 1901 as a German restaurant by a man named Schwartz but I couldn’t find that.
The next mentions I found were wantads dated April 1908, for a porter and cook at the Criterion Cafe at 319 Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis (Scandinavian preferred). That establishment opened on May 1, 1908.
After Prohibition ended, the Criterion emerges on November 2, 1934, at its traditional location at 739 University Ave. at Grotto in St. Paul.
In January 1945 the term “Club Criterion” comes into use at the St. Paul location.
Next we see ads for the New Club Criterion, re-opening in December 1945.
But what’s this about Harry’s? Seems Harry Doust, the former owner of Harry’s Cafe in Minneapolis, bought the Club Criterion in September 1947 and began using the name Harry’s for the Criterion, and even duplicated the menu. Harry Doust kept changing the name of the St. Paul restaurant:
- Harry’s Criterion
- Harry’s, Formerly Criterion
- Harry’s Cafe
Thus we see the photo below, dated January 29, 1948, from the Minnesota Historical Society. What the hey? A lawsuit ensued, and in June 1948, Harry Doust was enjoined from using the name Harry’s. Funny thing was that Doust hadn’t been associated with the St. Paul Harry’s since February 1948. The new owner was Harry Carnes. Oy.
Oh no, it’s not over. In January 1950, Harry Doust bought back the Criterion from Harry Carnes. By July 1950 Doust was back at it, calling the cafe Harry Doust’s Criterion Cafe. At least his name was in small letters. But in June 1951, Harry’s name was definitely above the fold in this recipe/SuperValu ad. Tsk Tsk.
In September 1952 the madness was over when Harry Doust sold the Criterion to a group of investors for $100,000. Ralph W. Jacobs became General Manager – Jacobs had managed several properties, including Harry’s in Minneapolis. After unsuccessfully vying to start restaurants in the western suburbs, including the new Knollwood Shopping Center in St. Louis Park, Doust became connected with Sleizer’s when it was renamed Bowman’s. Doust died in March 1960.
In 1957 McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc came to Minnesota with an idea to build a McDonald’s franchise in a cold-weather climate. The first franchise in Minnesota opened in September 1957 in Roseville. The second franchise was owned by Jim Zien, the owner of the Criterion. Kroc spent a lot of time at the Criterion and fell for the lovely organ player, Joan Smith. Kroc and Smith eventually married in 1969, and Smith’s ex-husband became a McDonald’s franchise holder in South Dakota.
From 1960 to 1969, Dick Clausen played organ and piano in the dining room.
Tom Marver provided this lovely memoir:
I grew up at the Criterion during the ’50s and ’60s. Besides their fantastic popovers, they were famous for their Criterion salad. The Criterion was owned by the Sandler family and Mickey was the parking lot attendant who could converse with you in Yiddish. When you would walk in the restaurant their was a lobster tank by the entrance. As a kid, I would sometimes sit on Joan’s lap when she played the organ (when she wasn’t at the piano in the bar) and that is how I learned to play my Hammond B-3 organ. The Criterion was much more than just a Saint Paul supper club, it was an institution. ❤️❤️
Matchbook posted on Facebook by Ron Ciccone
END OF THE ST. PAUL CRITERION
The Criterion suffered a major fire on March 19, 1978, starting in the basement at about 3:48 pm. 65 firefighters fought the blaze – no one was injured. At the time the owner of the restaurant was Robert Sandler and his mother Bernice owned the building. They had owned and operated it since about 1962. The building suffered about $100,000 in damage. Sandler decided not to rebuild.
The report of the fire revealed that “The Parlor” had seating for 220, and there were three private rooms that sat 90 people. One of these rooms had a private entrance from the outside that made meeting people not married to you more discreet.
Facebookers remember the lobster, crab, and especially the popovers that made it a special place.
After the fire, the Criterion moved to the Southgate Office Plaza in Bloomington. Ads for staff started on July 30, 1978.
An auction was held on August 30, 1978, at the St. Paul site to liquidate any salable chairs, tables, chandeliers, etc.
This venue was discovered through a photograph in the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society. It was described as taking place at the Crown Cafe, but there were several of them, so where was this?
To the rescue came Duane Jensen, who put together the following combination of memories of his father, whose first job was distributing flyers for the place, newspaper articles (not cited – probably from St. Paul papers that Duane researched), and court papers.
“Nick’s Crown Café” was named for Nick Crown and his wife Lillian. His friends called him Nick “the Greek” Crown and his son was known as “Little Nick.” Nick was of Greek heritage although he was born in South Africa. He came to Minneapolis and worked for his uncle in his candy store. One evening after the store closed, Nick returned and opened the basement safe removing the contents. He was soon caught because the safe was opened using the combination, known to only a few workers.
This was not his last exposure to the law. Shortly before WWI, Nick began dating a young waitress. One night they drove to St. Paul to party and then returned to Minneapolis where they checked into a hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Kaiser Wilhelm, the name of the Emperor of Germany. Unfortunately for Nick, the girl was underage and Nick had to do time in Stillwater Prison. The trial for dating an underaged girl is recorded at the Minnesota Historical Society, complete with testimony from the girl’s mother, Nick’s arresting officer, and Nick’s employer. Stillwater Prison had an entrance and exit exam of Nick’s condition but no photograph, damn! Nick gained weight while in prison and kept his short, roly-poly shape for the rest of his life.
NICK’S CROWN CAFE
By 1925 Nick had a grocery store at 2304 Central Ave. NE , and by 1931 he moved the store to 2500 W. Larpenteur at Eustis, which was outside the St. Paul city limits in Rose Township at the time. Jeff Neuberger points out that E. Hennepin (as written on the picture) turns into Larpenteur.
By 1935 the place was a combination meat market, grocery store, and 3.2 tavern called the Crown Cafe.
Hawaiian music was popular in the 1930s and Nick hired “Gene’s Surf Riders” to perform as a “Hawaiian” band. And thus we solve the mystery of the photo of Gene’s Surf Riders!
Chip Holk of the Historic Minneapolis Minnesota Facebook page had posted this great photo. MHS identified it as such:
“Gene’s Surf Riders,” Filipino-American musicians playing at the Crown Cafe, East Hennepin, Minneapolis. Unknown date.
Members of the band were identified as :
And just because there is a second photo of the band, let’s put that one up too:
The intersection of Eustis and Larpenteur was hopping with three bars. Perley Bagge owned a bar of the northwest corner. It was mostly filled with men. The Crown Café on the southwest corner had a mixture of men and women patrons. The Barnes Café on the northeast corner had many booths and a nice dance floor, a place you’d prefer to take your lady.
On December 21, 1936, his store caught on fire and Nick called police and fire from both St. Paul and Minneapolis. He said later he would have called the Marines too but didn’t have their phone number. (date from Minneapolis Journal)
In 1941 Nick put in a classified ad selling 11 booths.
In the 1940s Nick was accused of selling liquor to an underaged sailor. Nick avoided conviction because the sailor had been sent off to war when the trial came up.
On June 29, 1944, the Minneapolis Star reported that the Rose Township council approved three tavern renewals for Ramsey County commissioners’ approval, but residents protested renewal of three taverns (very close together) located at 2499, 2500, and 2505 Larpenteur. The licenses of these three taverns expired before the Township council met again. This may have been the end of Nick’s.
Duane’s dad says,
I want you to know that Nick Crown was well liked in the neighborhood. If nothing else he was appreciated as a neighborhood “character.”
When Hwy 280 was built in the 1950s, Nick’s home was displaced by the highway. Nick Crown moved to Hollywood where he spent the rest of his life.
Thank you, Duane and Dad!
The Crystal Coliseum was one of the Twin Cities’ most important venues because it was one of the first – if not the first – dance halls in the area that booked rock ‘n’ roll bands on a regular basis in the 1950s and early ’60s. It’s also the place where Del Shannon and hundreds of teens barely escaped with their lives.
Its advertising always described its location as “1 Mile West of Beltline on Highway 52.” Translation: the Beltline is Highway 100 and Highway 52 is now Highway 81. Ultimate translation: 5313 N. Lakeland Ave., Crystal. Lakeland Ave. is a dead-end service road of Highway 81.
The building was reportedly built in about 1954 by L.Z. Carlson Builders, although the earliest ads under the name Crystal Coliseum in May 1958 call it “New.” In addition to dances, activities in the building included swap meets and wrestling matches. It did not have a liquor license but it did serve beer on “Adults Only” nights.
Although several sources indicate that the building was owned by Bob Zimmerman of Crystal, another said that Zimmerman was in the process of buying it from William R. Jessup, who lived in Shorewood. Zimmerman was in the process of applying for an on-sale liquor license and building a modern cocktail lounge and convention center.
The facility could hold 500 people, according to the ad below, placed on August 17, 1958. The ad also indicates that there may have been a manager named Cavanaugh.
LOVELY new Crystal Coliseum ballroom rentals. For weddings, banquets, business meetings & parties. Many good dates avail. Accommodations up to 500. Mr. Cavanaugh.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!!
This venue hosted early acts like Augie Garcia, Mike Waggoner and the Bops, and the bands that David Hersk recorded on his Gaity label, including the Glen Rays, the Flames, the Sonics, the String Kings, and Jim Thaxter and the Travelers, a precursor to the Trashmen.
Sherwin Linton remembers playing the Crystal Coliseum, and has shared these memories:
When I first Came to Minneapolis in January 1958, I was a guest on Harry Zimmerman’s “Hi Five Time” Dance party on KSTP TV. That led me to the Crystal Coliseum in February of ’58. I performed as a guest with The Flames, led by Bobby Hanson, a super guitar player. Most bands at that time in the TC were just instrumental groups so being a singer I got some special recognition. Later I played there with my Rockabilly Band, “Sherwin Linton and The Rocketeers.” By the summer of ’59 I was hearing a lot about “Mike Waggoner and the Bops” and getting a lot of requests to sing “Honey Hush” because Mike did that song so well.
Thanks to the new online searchable database of the Minneapolis papers, I was able to come up with a pretty good list of who performed at the Crystal Coliseum during its brief three years of Rock ‘n’ Roll heaven. So instead of summarizing the data, I’ll try something new and list all of the shows I found. If you are, or know who some of these people are (Big Stoop Chamberlain, where are you?) please let me know!
May 16: Friday Eve. – Big Stoop Chamberlain – Teen Dance – 90 cents. This was the first ad in the Strib, and judging from the ad below from the North Hennepin Post, it may have been the first dance ever:
May 17, 1958: Sat. Eve. – Buzz Peterson – Modern – 90 cents
May 18, 1958: Sunday afternoon – Juke Box – 35 cents
May 18, 1958: Sunday Eve. – Al Noyce – Modern – 90 cents
May 23, 1958: Fri. Eve. – Teen Dance – Juke Box – 50 cents
May 24, 1958: Sat. Eve. – Buzz Peterson – Adult – Modern – 90 cents
May 25, 1958: Sun Aft. – Teen Dance – Juke Box – 35 cents
May 25, 1958: Sun. Eve. – Al Noyce – Adult – Modern, Old Time – 90 cents
May 30, 1958: Friday – Blue Kats – Rock & Roll
May 31, 1958: Sat. – Nick Huble – Adult
July 10, 1958: Boxing
June 14, 1958: Sat – Big Stoop Chamberlain – Adult
June 15, 1958: Sunday Nite – Al Noyce – Adult
June 20, 1958: Fri. – Blue Kats – Teen Dance
June 21, 1958: Sat. Nite – Big Stoop Chamberlain
June 22, 1958: Sunday Night – Al Noyce
June 24, 1958: Tues. – Augie Garcia
July 4, 1958: Friday – Blue Kats
July 5, 1958: Saturday – Country Western – Adult
July 6, 1958: Sun. – Al Noyce – Adult
July 8, 1958: Tues. – Augie Garcia
July 12, 1958: Sunday – Lou DeMars Combo – Modern Jazz – Adult
July 15, 1958: Tuesday – Augie Garcia
July 21, 1958: Monday – Augie Garcia
July 25, 1958: Friday – Forrest Cole & the Embers – Teen Dance
July 26, 1958: Saturday – Al Noyce
July 27, 1958: Sunday – Lou De Mars Combo – Modern Jazz
July 29, 1958: Tuesday – Augie Garcia
August 23, 1958: Saturday – Big Stoop Chamberlain
There were no ads during the winter of 1958-59. Perhaps the place was just too cavernous to heat during the winter. Ads do start up again in July 1959.
July 3, 1959: Friday – The Big M’s – Teenage – Dress Right
July 4, 1959: Saturday – The Delreco’s (sic) – Teenage – Dress Right (The Delricos included a very young Donald K. Martin, who became a broadcaster on KDWB)
July 5, 1959: Sunday – Augie Garcia (every Sunday) – Adults Only
July 12, 1959: Sunday – Augie Garcia (every Sunday) – Adults Only
July 18, 1959: Saturday – Dick Marrone & his Velvetones – Adults Only
July 19, 1959: Sunday – Augie Garcia – (every Sunday) Adults Only
October 11, 1959: Sunday – Augie Garcia – Adults Only
October 16, 1959: Friday – Teen-Age Hop Featuring WLOL’s Karl Peterson. Dress Right! See You After the Game! (Karl Peterson is listed as Carl Peterson, the Swingin’ Swede, in my list of Disk Jockeys)
October 17, 1959: Saturday – Ray Evans – Modern Jazz Group – Adults Only
October 18, 1959: Sunday – Augie Garcia and featuring handsome 6’4″ Frank Townsend, Popular Singing Wrestling Idol. Adults Only
October 23, 1959: Friday – Teen Hop Featuring WLOL’s Karl Peterson
November 13, 1959:
The ads for 1960 were few and far between.
January 31: Sunday – Eddie Lovejoy – His Songs and Guitar, and the Jerry Cole Band – Young Adults
July 13: Dance Wednesday Nite – Rock ‘N’ Roll
August 20: Saturday – Adult Dancing – The Chuck Carson TV Band: Johnny Boyt, Johnny Long, Woody Sorenson, & Others.
September 16: Friday – Teen Hop
September 17: Saturday – Tommy Francis – Young Adults (18 and Over)
September 24: Saturday – Tommy Francis – Rhythm & Blues, Latin & Smooth – Young Adults (18 and Over)
October 1: Saturday – Glen-Rays – Rock, Latin, and Smooth – 18 and Over
December 10: Saturday – Teen Hop
December 11: Sunday – Augie Garcia – 18 and Over
In the spring of 1961, the Crystal Coliseum started to book national acts. Whether it was just these three, it’s hard to tell, but these were advertised in the Minneapolis papers. Mike Waggoner remembers that Jimmy Rodgers (“Honeycomb”) also appeared there on a Saturday night.
May 14: Sunday – Brian Hyland, opened by local group Mike Waggoner and the Bops. Young Adults only (18 and over).
All these years later Mike Waggoner is still playing rock ‘n’ roll, and has graciously shared his memories of the Crystal Coliseum:
The Crystal Coliseum was a very important venue for us early bands and many of the future bands ie Trashmen. The Friday night dances were teen dances, and on Saturday nights they had beer and adult dances. Others that played there on Friday nights were Damon Lee and the Diablos, Jim Thaxter, Del Rico’s, Sherwin Linton, Don Dax and the Dorados and many, many others. Augie was considered the”house” band .. a great showman with a really a good band. The CC was one of the big venues that all of us hoped to play. Bob Zimmerman was the owner/operator of the Crystal Coliseum; a really swell guy who was so very helpful in the early days.
May 19: Friday – Bobby Freeman and Little Johnny Sala, opened by local group Tommy Francis Dance Band. Apparently showing a Hispanic performer on the ad was more acceptable than having a picture of Freeman, who was black, so although Freeman had the big hit (“Do You Wanna Dance” from 1958 – “C’mon and Swim” would come later in 1964), Sala was on the ad. Someone on Facebook also remembers that some thugs tried to break up the dance, but police were called and the show went on.
June 2-4, 1961: Friday through Sunday – Del Shannon, opened by local group the Tommy Francis Dance Band.
THE CRYSTAL COLISEUM MEETS ITS DEMISE
And then, just like that, it was over. The last of the three Del Shannon shows was held on Saturday, June 4, 1961, ending at about 1:15 am on Sunday morning, June 5 . The janitor left at about 1:55 am. At 2:20 am a nearby gas station attendant saw flames and called the Crystal Fire Department. Eventually about 60 firemen from Crystal, Brooklyn Center and Robbinsdale were required to fight the fire. The fire started in a front office, but was otherwise unexplained. Damage was estimated at $50,000 – although the Quonset hut was intact, the inside was gutted beyond repair. Crystal Fire Chief Wes Tonn said that “flames were leaping from the front elevation when he arrived, and that it was impossible to save the structure.”
I have so far been unsuccessful in finding a photo of the building before the fire. The photo below looks like there’s the word “Dancing” on the left side – not sure what “ALS” would have been on the right. And there may have been a semi-circle marquee at the top that said “Crystal Coliseum.”
The North Hennepin Post reported that Zimmerman wanted to rebuilt, quoting him as saying “I want a fireproof building this time. If we put up a new building, it will be fireproof. If we remodel, I plan to incorporates much fireproof material as possible.”
The Post also reported, “Right now, Zimmerman is looking for a temporary location in this area in which to stage his dances which are so popular with the teens – and which are plugged consistently by radio stations KDWB and WDGY.”
Fortunately, everyone was gone before the fire started, but this could have been a real tragedy. Wow.
Zimmerman never rebuilt, at least in the same spot. The building there now is at 5353 Lakeland Ave. No, which was built in 1999 and is occupied by Rise, Inc., a social service agency.
The Crystal Mist was a bar inside the Maplewood Bowl, which was located at the Northwest Corner of English Street and Frost (1955 English).
THE MAPLEWOOD BOWL
The Maplewood Bowl was developed by businessman Robert Hall in 1961.
Lyfmap.com provides us with a look inside the compound as of November 1, 1961:
Presumably the picture below is of the bar, chastely walled off from anyone below 21 who might be in the building.
THE CRYSTAL MIST
The Crystal Mist opened in the Fall of 1972, according to minniepaulmusic.com.
A house band for over a year was the Gangbusters:
Pictured above are: Kent Appledorn; Ken Erwin (former member of the very successful band, the C.A. Quintet); Keith Larsen; Darrel Lichy; and John Chichila (former member of the Deacons).
An article in 1980 said there were two rooms for dancing:
The Playpen upstairs had a stainless steel dance floor.
Downstairs was Fanny Hill’s.
Both featured live bands. (Minneapolis Star, October 17, 1980)
The name of the building changed to Maplewood Lanes and was taken over by AMF, but after a decline in interest in bowling and a change in musical tastes, the Maplewood Bowl had financial trouble and filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (still called Maplewood Bowl) on May 18, 1988. Deleano D. Benjamin was named as president. (Minneapolis Tribune May 30, 1988)
The facility remained open, but appeared more and more on the Theft report. In 1990, one of the venues was renamed Doo Wah Ditty’s Lounge.
Starting on February 14, 1992, it appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune as the “Maplewood Fun Mall.” By December 3, 1993, it was back to the Maplewood Bowl. By September 1995 it was listed as the “Maplewood Entertainment Center.” In October 1996, the club within the bowling alley was referred to as “Neon’s Nightclub.”
Robert Hall owned it in August 1997. He died in November 2014.
The last ad for live music was on April 8, 1988. They tried karaoke in September 1999. What followed were a lot of ads for pipe swaps.
“The Bowl” had to close its doors on April 21, 2013.
The building has been demolished and had been replaced by a large apartment complex.