This fabled watering hole and rock club was located at 3018 Hennepin.
This establishment originated in the 1920s. Frank Toonen guessed that it had been the Granada Cafe in the 1940s. Toonen bought the bar in 1950 and served 3.2 beer. The first hit on the Strib database is in January 1950, advertising for a girl, single, under 30, to tend bar. One source says it was a blues venue in the fifties.
Toonen bought the property in 1960, and an article says that in the ’60s and early ’70s the bar featured Dale Thompson and his guitar, a fact I wasn’t able to verify. (Bream, April 4, 1996)
Toonen obtained a liquor license in the 1970s. The bar sponsored sports teams, showed movies in 1970, and hosted a pool tournament in 1972. In May 1971 people were urged to “Help celebrate the Depression – Wear your old clothes – Everything half price to unemployed girls.” This was a take on an old tradition of the “Hard Time Dance,” where participants competed to wear the worst clothes.
The photo below came undated, but the film “Nashville” came out in 1975.
Someone said that the Uptown became a rock venue in 1974; bands were advertised off and on starting at the end of 1978. One of the bands to appear was Fatt City, in 1982. Until 1984 it was mostly a blues venue.
In 1984, Toonen sold it to Ray “Big Reggie” Colihan and Jim Loosen, a former contractor. They installed a stage and sound system.
Colihan hired Maggie Macpherson, who was responsible for booking the alternative bands that really put the Uptown on the map, in the days when the only other such venue was 7th Street Entry.
Big Reggie died in 1986 and Jim Loosen carried on until 1992.
Frank Toonen’s son Kenny took the bar back in 1992 – Dennis Willey became the bar’s general manager in 1995. Kenny put an end to live music in 1996, claiming that the bands were getting too expensive. Eventually live music returned, but it took time to regain its momentum.
Kenny Toonen died in 2008, and in November 2009 the bar was closed, razed to be rebuilt as a commercial building in 2010.