New owners reopen Cedar Lounge in Superior

Tim and Naomi Nelson pose inside the Cedar Lounge just off Tower Avenue in Superior.

Tim and Naomi Nelson pose inside the Cedar Lounge just off Tower Avenue in Superior.

Trailblazing craft brewery owner and longtime Duluth bar developer Tim Nelson is ready to launch his newest drinking establishment in a historic, working waterfront neighborhood on the Superior side of the Twin Ports.

The Cedar Lounge, 1715 N. Third Street, just off Tower Avenue, opens in the shadows of the Harvest State Co-op grain elevators Friday, Aug. 26. Nelson and his wife, Naomi, purchased the historic bar building in December and the property has undergone a seven-month restoration.

“We’re going to open the doors, turn on the lights and see who shows up,” said Nelson. “It’s a soft opening, to see where we’re at and then in September we’ll throw party and really go for it.”

Nelson said the Cedar Lounge will keep regular business hours, serving bottled and canned beer and one select Wisconsin tap. There will be no craft brewing at the Cedar Lounge site.

“There’s just no room for it here,” he said. “And we’ve been busy, so really don’t have the time for it either.”

Nelson, his brother, Brad, Dave Hoops and Paul Christensen recently started a craft beer consulting firm called Bev-Craft. The company operates from the second floor of the Cedar Lounge building.

While there may be no room for giant steel kettles and a tangled network of piping, the Cedar Lounge has plenty of room for history. Workers exposed ancient tin ceilings, well-worn hardwood floors and sturdy brick walls during the renovation. New windows were installed near the front door and the oval bar got an updating.

New windows were added to the front of the Cedar Lounge. The old sign remains.

New windows were added to the front of the Cedar Lounge. The old sign remains.

“We brought back the history,” said Nelson. “As far as I know it’s been a tavern for a long, long time.”

Nelson said the building dates to 1910. Old city records show it served as a drinking establishment as far back as the 1920s when it was listed as a “soft drink” business. It became known as the Cedar Lounge in 1974.

Nelson said family history drew him to Superior as well. Decades ago, his great-grandfather owned and operated a bakery just a couple of blocks away.

“I like Tower Avenue a lot. Back in college it was the place to go,” he said. “I like the working harbor, the fact that the (freighter) Ryerson is parked in our backyard and the trains go by every hour. It’s a neat location.”

Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce President David Minor said the downtown Superior business community is excited to see the renovated Cedar Lounge opening.

“Anytime we get new investors from from the inside here in Superior or the outside coming from across the bridge, that’s a good thing,” said Minor. “Microbrewing is really hot right now and they are certainly one of the groups leading the nation in that industry.”

“Because of location, heritage, family, this was the place they wanted to be,” he said.

The recent Tower Avenue improvement project has helped attract more than a dozen new businesses to the downtown Superior strip, said Minor. The improvements have helped the north end become a destination for tourists and locals alike, he said.

Nelson has a strong reputation for putting together high-quality, well-run establishments in Duluth, said Minor. The same should hold true in Superior.

“Reputation counts more than anything,” he said. “People are looking for something different, a different tavern, a different taste. They have the reputation for bringing it all together in a project.”

Nelson established Fitger’s Brewhouse at the historic Fitger’s Brewery Complex in Duluth with business partner Rod Raymond in 1995. At the time, it was one of just a handful of craft brew pubs in the state. Nelson and Raymond went on to create several more Duluth eating and drinking establishments under the corporate name Just Take Action, including the Burrito Union, Tycoons Alehouse and the Red Star Lounge (now known as the Barrel Room).

Last August, Raymond bought out Nelson, which sent Nelson on a hunt for a new project of his own.

“I was looking in Duluth and Superior, just driving around trying to figure out where it was going to go,” he said. “Then I drove by here and I saw the ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign. I just stopped in.”

Nelson said the location will be ideal once Blatnik Bridge repairs are complete.

“It’s a real bummer,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait it out, there’s nothing you can do.”

Well, there is something. Nelson said the bar will offer permanent happy hour prices until the bridge construction is completed in October.

Beginning Friday, Aug. 26, the Cedar Lounge will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 4 to 11 p.m., Fridays from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturdays from noon to 1 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.



about 8 years ago

The bar history goes all the way back to the beginning.  I hope the owners see the Superior Public Library's Facebook page regarding the Cedar Lounge building:


about 8 years ago

And here is the original architect's drawing.  Notice it was built by the Northern Brewing Company.


about 8 years ago

Awesome. I worked near the Cedar Lounge for years and always meant to stop in but was a little scared. I will definitely stop by now. Sounds like a swell place.

Cory Fechner

about 8 years ago

Here is a little more info on the Northern Brewing Company in Superior, WI.

Richard K

about 8 years ago

This is  great news for Superior. I'm glad the Nelsons are showing the town some love and respecting the history.

Also thanks to all for sharing the comments about the history. I've lived here my whole life and didn't know a lot of this. Keep it coming.

Barry Travis

about 8 years ago

Someone better look behind that metal siding up top. Imagine if that Northern Brewing logo is still there! It has to be, it's part of the building. I'd love to see it revealed!!

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

It looks to me like, if that part of the building was actually built the way the sketch indicates, it was removed at some point. I would guess the flat roof was replaced with the tapered one a long time ago and whatever fancy masonry was on the top edge is long gone.

But lord knows I've been wrong 10,000 times before.


about 8 years ago

Tried to go there last Sunday night, they were closed.  Lost in the 50's and the other bar over there looked to have plenty of cars around them.

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