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”
Dave Lee bought the buildings at 316, 320, and 324 Cedar (now collectively known as 322 Cedar) in 1962, and took over over the bar in early 1964. Dave’s wife Muriel wrote, “At the time, two of the buildings housed a bar, whose rent helped cover the deed payments. When the bar closed a year or so later, the Lees decided to re-open the bar in order to continue a source of income.” The liquor license of Dagmar A. May was transferred to David V. Lee on April 1, 1964.
Lee had owned the Scholar in Dinkytown, and was the one who was known as the guy who threw Bob Dylan out periodically for annoying people with his droning.
Caesar’s Bar opened in November 1964. It was named for a 7 ft. statue of Augustus Caesar that came from the second floor landing of the old Minneapolis public library.
Other Romanisms include a bust of Cicero and the plaster kissers of Julius Caesar, Agrippa, Brutus and the goddess Minerva. The decor is partially explained because the youthful owner, David Lee, hates illuminated beer ads and other gimcracks normally to be found in such establishments. Also, he is angling for the more scholarly university trade.
The place opened with folksinger-accordionist Maury Bernstein (who had five years of college Latin, incidentally, performing in the back room. However, until business builds up a bit more, Lee has had to forego entertainment. (Will Jones, Minneapolis Tribune, November 16, 1964)
Will Jones’s column of July 18, 1965, focused on all the different kinds of beers that Lee had on hand.
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)
By the early 1970s, Cedar Avenue was undergoing some drastic changes. Cedar Riverside Plaza, an apartment complex designed by Ralph Rapson, opened in 1973. And the University of Minnesota was expanding to the West Bank. Caesar’s Bar was well-known and liked. The Lees rented apartments above Caesar’s to students and also maintained a garden at 3rd St. and Cedar Ave.
David Lee became ill and the couple closed the bar on March 28, 1986. The buildings were sold several months later. David died of cancer in March, 1990.
Muriel Lee’s writings are from the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Collection, Special Collections, Hennepin County Central Library.