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.