R.I.P. Horseshoe Billards and Burns Bar

To toss out some random bar gossip, I heard last night that Horseshoe Billiards in the West End closed a while back, and that Burns Bar in Rice Lake Township closed several months ago.

Which reminds me that I don’t think it was ever mentioned on PDD that La Belle in Superior closed earlier this summer. And I heard the roof caved in at the Palace Bar. Is that true? Is it still open?

What will we do without all these classy joints?

Gettin’ Ripped at Burns Bar
Gettin’ Ripped at Horseshoe Billiards
Gettin’ Ripped at the Palace Bar
Gettin’ Ripped at La Belle

17 Comments

CLeTa

about 8 years ago

The roof did cave in this late spring/early summer at the Palace. I'm working on finding some photos I was shown of the disaster. You can't be too surprised though, there was a reason the theater was torn down right next to it. Folks need to take better care of those old buildings. Thankfully, I heard no one was hurt when it happened.

Herzog

about 8 years ago

Slim was always my favorite, hands down.  I remember a few years ago when he went off the air, thinking he was joking.  This seems to be a pattern with all the good writers around here. Sheer frustration for...lack of appreciation?  I don't know. 

And so, I would like to ask you fine PDDers, what are the best divey bars around?  Do any of them have fish tanks, lava lamps, or pickled testicles?  A classic kind of fear occurs when walking into these places. And Slim's genius was to make it his own. The inbred patrons who all swing around in unison to look at you, have known only each other for  30 years, and you just rocked their salty world, and violated their territory.  I've had my eye on a few places in far Superior.  Favorites?

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Despite the loses of the Red Lion, Shish-ka-bar, Kozy, Jokers Wild, the Midway, the Limit, Sanitary Harry's, and many more over the years, there are still plenty of great hole-in-the-wall joints out there. The Round-up, Kom-on-Inn, Curly's, the Alpine, Shotz, the Wabegon Supper Club, the North Pole, and on and on.

But there is certainly a growing trend toward upscale places with really good, expensive beer. The bars with $3 pitchers of yellow swill are getting a little fewer and farther between.

CLeTa

about 8 years ago

Few dive favorites of mine I will suggest in Superior: Cedar Lounge (great jukebox selection), Hudy's in East End (where a regular speaks in Klingon), and the Village Bowling Alley (has a fish tank). All is not lost...except for a 'lil class drinking a $2.00 non-micro brewed tap beer at these entertaining establishments.

Herzog

about 8 years ago

I was gonna say, don't say Curly's...  Belgian Club?

Rae

about 8 years ago

Next PDD Poll:  What is the Duluth areas best dive bar?

akjuneau

about 8 years ago

News Tribune story from when Labelles (the owner's spelling) closed in June.

Superior nightclub plans to close for good

baci

about 8 years ago

Keep the twin ports seedy!

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

I haven't been there for years, but I'd vote for Mama's in Superior as a classic dive bar. If we were actually having a poll, I'd want to really hash out what constitutes a dive beforehand, because I wouldn't consider a lot of the bars mentioned so far to be dives.

Cory Fechner

about 8 years ago

Landmark Lanes bar in Superior has always been one of my favorites. For some reason old bowling alley bars seem cool to me, not sure why.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

There is a fine line between a full-on dive and a regular neighborhood bar, and we probably should, as Barrett suggested, develop a list of characteristics.

I don't think we could find any characteristic that would be a definitive factor, but there are certainly elements that help build the case for the "dive" label.

One is that dives are generally old. People don't build new dive bars, although we could argue that High Fives in Superior might be the exception.

Herzog

about 8 years ago

Personally, I don't really want to know the places I'm most likely to get stabbed or be able to buy meth. Or maybe I do? Opium might not be a bad idea after all if the visuals are there, Chesire cats and stuff.  In the case of Curly's, because my neighbor knows a guy who goes there from back in the day who was in a motorcycle gang, and I guess this guy has a vault to his torture chamber that runs on hydraulics with ton doors and heavy gauge chain, death star style where he keeps his sit and spin. Don't know if I want to run into him? 
I'm more looking for stuffed ferret menageries and the above mentioned list and sort of side with Fechner's sensibilities because bowling alleys do have that certain something, maybe cutest warmest fuzziest kitchiest dive bar, or perhaps two lists, the afore mentioned, and then the one most likely to get you killed, or enable you to pick up a prostitute or some meth.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

One defining characteristic is this: It is not a dive if you can buy any kind of beer that is not the most basic type of corporate macrobrew. If you can buy a Summit Extra Pale, for example, it is not a dive. 

However, if, after establishing that corporate macrobrews are all that is sold, you order one of these beers and you're told that they still don't carry it, that scores big points in the dive column. In other words, if they consider MGD to be "too fancy" for their establishment, it's probably a dive.

Another thing that excludes the bar from dive status is if you order a mixed drink and the bartender asks you what brand of alcohol you want in it. There is no upselling in dives. It's assumed that you want rotgut well whiskey, and if you order something brand-name, it's assumed that either you are in the wrong place or you just hit it big on pulltabs.

Other characteristics include:

- Cheap taps (cheap meaning under $1)
- No taps
- The bartender is drunk
- The bartender is incapable/unwilling to make any drink with more than two components (e.g. rum & Coke)
- Restrooms you can smell throughout the building
- Cash only

Ramos

about 8 years ago

Now that the Kozy and Red Lion are gone, Curly's has really cornered the dive bar market in Duluth. The Kom-On-Inn might qualify as a slightly more upscale dive bar, because there aren't a lot of fights or $5 blowjobs associated with it.

In Superior, I concur with Barrett's nomination of Mama's Bar.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

"(Y)ou can tell a real dive by its bathrooms.  If they don't reek, it's no dive, no matter how much graffiti is on the walls."  
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman

This is all I know anymore about dive bars; I haven't been in one in years.  They don't let me in since liquor shots give me heart palpitations and I have to go to sleep by 8 p.m.

Rae

about 8 years ago

I can't decide if I consider The Viking in Superior a dive bar, or just straight up terrifying.

rappdaddy

about 8 years ago

Slim... lol... enough said...

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