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.