Bedrock Bar / Tom’s Junkyard / Roby’s Bar & Lounge / Slippery Saloon / The Amber Flow — Timeline of a West End Bar

BedrockBar

The post “Minnow Swallowing Contest in Duluth” led to a discussion about where the Amber Flow Bar was located. The answer quickly emerged … 2023 W. Superior St.

Time for a little tavern genealogy …

Bedrock Bar opened in 2001, owned by Ray and Patricia Tarvas. Ray Skelton took over in 2004, but died in 2006. Tammi Benson and Cary Gimpel took over from there.

Before that it was briefly Tom’s Junkyard, operated by Tom Lemon.

Throughout the 1990s, it was Roby’s Bar & Lounge, owned by Tom Robillard. City directories list George Gothner, Char Kervina and Daniel Borndal as proprietors. An old Roby’s sign is still on the side of the building.

During the mid-to-late 1980s, it was the Slippery Saloon: Mark Wrazidlo, proprietor.

And before that, ta-da, it was the Amber Flow Bar (also known as the Amber Flow Restaurant & Lounge). Leonard Wrazidlo and Lorraine Stuart ran the place.

The Amber Flow first opened across the street, at 2020 W. Superior St., in the mid 1930s. It took over the space of the undertaking business run by Joseph Olson and Maytor Hoppenyan.

The original owner of the Amber Flow was Joseph G. Kasper. He ran it at the original location for 20 years, then moved across the street to 2023, which had previously been the Grand Union Tea Co., a retailer of coffee, tea and groceries.

The Wrazidlo family — Frank, Richard, Robert and Leonard — took over the Amber Flow in the early 1960s.

The old Amber Flow, at 2020, has been home to numerous businesses over the years. Recent ones include: Metro Appliance Service, New Tech Concepts, GCS SVC, Inc., and more recently Magic Paint.

39 Comments

Tomasz

about 12 years ago

"WALA" ... "PROFESSIONAL"

'Nuff said.

davids

about 12 years ago

Paul, you (bed) rock! Every village needs a town historian like you. Thanks for the lesson. 

Now, can you tell me the history of that silly wedding cake mansion on east Superior Street--who was making that faux ionic column crap up and when and why?

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

Hey Davids, I don't take requests! Bars are far more interesting to me than wedding shops or whatever is in that location right now. 

But here's what little I know, at the risk of hijacking my own post:

The mansion at 1123 E. Superior St. was Silver's Dress Shop for quite a few years. I think that business started in the 1930s.

At some point in recent history, the IRS seized the inventory and the place was closed. At that time it was owned by Wilson Thompson.

The sales manager, Rosa Johnson, started it up again under the name Silver Rose. She opened a second location in Cloquet and then closed her Duluth store.

I think after that it became La Maison Wedding Chapel, which I think went out of business in 2008. I have no idea if there's a business in there now or what. I just walked by there last week and paid no attention.

Barrett Chase

about 12 years ago

In other words, you do take requests.

Bill Meier

about 12 years ago

I am curious to know the history of the Gold Cross building which is currently available for lease.  I believe it was at one time a swinging nightclub. (to peak your personal interest) I think the address is 3something E. 2nd street upper side.

Jim M

about 12 years ago

I heard that the Gold Cross building was once the spot of the original Duluth Owls club.

davids

about 12 years ago

Sorry, Paul, didn't mean to set off a firestorm of requests for you to be a personal researcher for every one of us with a casual interest in a building's history--I was kind of joking about the wedding cake house (and kind of gut checking your extensive knowledge about town, and you didn't fail to have something to say! Thanks for confirming my nomination of you as community historian.) 

Now I (and everybody else making requests) need to do our darn homework!

Tony D.

about 12 years ago

davids s.: those columns are likely original, and the building was originally a private family home (just who would take further research). That house is a remnant of a whole mess of nice houses that once lined the block. Both major hospitals have claimed many of Duluth's pre-1890s "cake-eatin'" homes (as Wildgoose may call them), before the rich moved east of 21st Ave E. St. Mary's has swallowed up almost all of a neighborhood once known as Astabula Heights that was filled with Queen Anne Victorians. The Dougherty Funeral home was originally the Henry & Alameda Bell house (he was a banker). You should have seen it without the cheesy siding job (and if you're patient, you will: that and many others will be featured in "Lost Duluth," which I hope to release a year from this May).

By the way, I heard that that house and the almost brand new building on the corner next to it (former site of Little Caeser's) will be torn down to build a new Walgreens with a drive through.

As you say, let's all do our homework. The reference librarians at the DPL are wonderful and willing to help. Go to the North Shore room and look through the old directories for what was at what address when, or take an address up to city hall for a records research.

adam

about 12 years ago

Gothner ran the Tap Room before Andy, or was that someone else?

Free estimates, indeed.

The hospitals have been cannibalizing the Hillside for quite long enough. Quite long enough to drive surrounding property value down, pave (get it?) the way for micro parking lots which lead to bigger parking lots (5th Ave E. & 5th St.) which lead to rezoning which leads to more buildings--but not more accommodation for parking, oddly. IMHO, if you are parking in a neighborhood and walking 4+ blocks to work, your employer is doing something wrong. And by "wrong" I mean "not pulling their weight and providing required resources to their employees and for the community they reside in."

Resol

about 12 years ago

A Walgreens with a drive-through? Seriously?  What is this, Miller Trunk Hwy? What do they plan on doing with their store a block away?

heysme

about 12 years ago

Putting this out there for anyone - What was the name of the restaurant (supperclub?) located in the Plaza where Bejing/Anytime Fitness is currently located? This was a lunchtime discussion that stumped everyone. Any help is appreciated.

Tony D.

about 12 years ago

Researcher extraordinaire (and my coauthor for "Lost Duluth") Maryanne Norton came up with some tidbits for us:

The house at 1123 E Superior Street was built in 1900 by Louis & Cecelia Loeb.  He was in real estate with his brother. At one time in late 1920s was home of the Roman Catholic bishop. According to Maryanne, who has been inside the house, much of the interior has not been changed since it was built and, at least five years ago, was still in very good condition.

 With a simple google search I discovered Loeb later moved east to Lester Park and donated some of his land to Sam Snively for the building of Seven Bridges Road (or perhaps Skyline Parkway). He was also a founding board member of the Northern National Bank.

Not sure what they plan to do with the old Walgreens which, by the way, stands on the site of the first home Guilford Hartley built in Duluth--and the first Duluth home to have a telephone. The family had the house destroyed so it would not be subdivided into apartments.

Patsy

about 12 years ago

The original Silver's Dress Shop was located across Jefferson St. from the Armory.  The business didn't move to the Loeb house until sometime in the 1980s.

The site of the original Hartley home was later the site of the original Continental Ski Shop!

Tony D.

about 12 years ago

Patsy, the first Hartley House was at 1305 E. Superior Street (from 1889 - 1954). The Ski Shop is on First Street. I have no idea, but the Hartley's property may well have extended into the Ski Shop property.

davids

about 12 years ago

Okay, I amend my nomination of Mr. Lundgren for community historian; obviously Tony and Maryanne also deserve the title, so we need to have a number of community historians rather than merely one. Would "convocation" make a good collective noun for community historians, as in a flock of sheep, a murder of crows and a convocation of historians?

Thanks Tony and Maryanne. It's interesting to imagine how the built environment reflects and shapes cultural realities across time--tearing down your mansion to prevent it being broken up into apartments--is that an example of "taking it with you" when you die?

Jude

about 12 years ago

For those of us (me) who are more about the future than the past, this thread is just perfect for giving a snapshot of Duluth's history.  If  my history classes would have been like this instead of hours and hours of lecture, I would have certainly been interested.  

Growing up a poor farm kid there was never anything fancy (my mother sewed all my clothes), so when I visited Duluth as an adult and we drove by Silver's Dress Shop in that stately old house I could only imagine the price the dresses would be--way too expensive for me, I always thought.  I never did go inside. Thanks for the trip back in time, everyone..

Tony D.

about 12 years ago

davids, Convocation might work. How about a DeLorian of Historians? (the time-travel reference is obvious, but of course, it would be a group of four or less, I guess, depending on how many historians you can get in the car).

I like the idea of Paul, a native West Duluthian and Denfeld grad and PDD president, as the official PDD historian, but I remain willing to help any time it hits a topic I know something about (and Maryanne is always willing to help anyone--she volunteers at the DPL).

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

Yes those were the cake eaters ... 
BTW, although I am certainly not a cake eater, I did live in about the cake eatingest house your could imagine for about a year.  The "other" Hartley home at 38th and Superior St.  Guilford gave it to his son Cavour for a wedding gift.  Maybe I'll share some of my high living stories from those days, sometime ...  but then, I have a feeling Tony D knows more about it than I do.  My first post paper route job was gardener's assistant there.  And it was SOME garden, I tell you.  

And that my friends is how you go from the Amber Flow to the Harltey mansion in a doen or so posts on PDD.  Ahh ... threadjacking.  Tough to avoid.

jj

about 12 years ago

The restaurant at the Anytime Fitness location was first the Sweden House a buffet and then in later years it was a place called The Dinner Bell.

The Big E

about 12 years ago

"Ashtabula Heights" entertains me, as I grew up in the Cleveland area (where the Ashtabula reference comes from, it being the former home of some subset of the early residents of that area of Duluth, apparently).

HoseDragger

about 12 years ago

To answer an earlier query, the Gold Cross building use to be the Fraternal order of the Eagles, or Eagles Club.

carrster

about 12 years ago

I love all this stuff. Duluth's history is fascinating to me. Thanks everyone for sharing!

girlfromnorthcountry

about 12 years ago

@Wildgoose, I beg to differ: you went to East, therefore you are a cake eater.  Me too.  Case closed.  :)

I bought my wedding dress from Silver's for the sole reason that my grandmother bought hers from them as well.  The building always held drama and romance for me, and Rose fitted my dress perfectly.  My grandmother passed away on the day I picked it up...  actually, within the hour.  She didn't make it to my wedding but that's a memory that means a lot to me.  Much more so than the marriage!

Barrett Chase

about 12 years ago

I agree with girlfromnorthcountry. East = Cake. You can argue amongst each other about the relative amounts of cake you eat, but if you went to EHS, you eat cake and there's no arguing against it.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

Barrett and I went to Denfeld. We steal hub caps from cake eaters.

Friendly Old Knifey

about 12 years ago

Friends of mine used to steal Letterman's Jackets from cake-eaters. We went to Cloquet, though.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

I am pleading "no contest" on the cake eater thing for ... for now.  Clearly I am alone in my analysis and I can live with your assessment ... for now.  I'll be very interested to see what comes out on the official PDD map, though, I mean, along with each neighborhood there should also be a label attached to the people from that neighborhood. I mean, this is Duluth, after all, where would we be without our labels?    

I lost a hubcap from my Mom's Pontiac 6000 station wagon out at PSS (Public Schools Stadium) in the fall of '89 and I got into a crapload of trouble for it. You just can't make up those high school weekends of being grounded from the car, they are gone forever once they have passed.  It was either there that I lost it or the curb I grazed in a wide turn on 24th Ave E on the way there.  Either way I am officially now blaming you for it, Lundgren!

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

@Mevdev: Sorry to take six months to answer your question, but that's sort of what not taking requests but then kind of taking them anyway is all about. Yes, there was a farm market on the corner of 59th Avenue West and Grand Avenue in about 1984. I'll post about that separately some time.

Tom

about 10 years ago

We're still waiting on that post about that Spirit Valley Fresh Farm Market, Paul.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Now where did I put my notes on that? They've got to be around here somewhere.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago



Here's a photo of the Amber Flow, which I obtained recently on a DVD slideshow. I have no clue who/what is the original source of the image.

Oh, and in reference to the inquiry on Spirit Valley Fresh Farm Market, yes, I eventually did eventually put something together on that.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

 

And there have been some Amber Flow tokens popping up for sale online.

TimK

about 8 years ago

One of my earliest memories as a toddler was being set on the pool table at the Amber Flow. That was my dad's concept of "babysitting."

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

Amber Flow Bowling Shirt Duluth

... and then there's this sexy Amber Flow bowling shirt.

Cory Fechner

about 2 years ago

Wasn't Frank's Quality Meats in the building next to Amber Flow before it was combined into one larger bar?

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Yes, it looks like Frank's Quality Meats took over the space that had been occupied by Roecker's department store, sharing the building with Amber Flow.

And I suppose we should note that in 2018 the Bedrock was sold and became Caddy Shack Indoor Golf & Pub.

Cory Fechner

about 2 years ago

It amazing Curly's Bar has stayed the same all these years. We need a story just about history, hidden secrets and stories about Curly's Bar.

thelod

about 2 years ago

And now with COVID-19 HVAC filter installed at Caddy Shack:

Early on, we recognized the key role air filtration plays in our efforts to balance being open and being safe. It's important to the TCS team -- and to all of us in the Twin Ports -- to be responsible community members and do our part to lessen community spread of COVID-19 in whatever way we can!

Read more about the upgrades we've put into our systems at caddyshackduluth.com/covid-19-hvac-updates.

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