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.