Bars / Drinking Establishments Posts

Ripped at Le Grand Supper Club in 2001

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Twenty years ago he took a ride to Grand Lake Township for a night of imbibing at La Grand Supper Club. The establishment closed in 2010 and was replaced in 2016 by the Cast Iron Bar and Grill. Goodbuzz documented his experience for the March 21, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So, Sean the locksmith shows up at my door and tells me that he’s “in the mood to drive.” How fortunate: I’m in the mood to drink. I suggest we head up the Old Miller Trunk Highway to Le Grand Supper Club and see what kind of mischief we can find.

Le Grand is a nice, big place, and tonight it’s all but empty except for a group of disgruntled pool players and about six or seven inebriated regulars at the bar. If I did my drinking on the weekends like any normal person, I might be able to see this place packed as a cover band such as Sh-boom attempts to rock the house. But weekends are made for pleasure drinking; I’m here for business drinking.

A Lament for Liquor Lyle’s

I asked my friend to describe the strangely named bar that he said was our destination for the night. He paused, frowned, and sought out the right analogy.

“Well,” he said, “It’s as if a 1950s diner met a hunting shack.”

So began my first visit to Liquor Lyle’s, an establishment just south of Hennepin Avenue’s corner with Franklin Avenue in the Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis. A year later I moved into an apartment next door, and for my two years in the Twin Cities, Lyle’s became the hub of my social life, the one place that could summon a crowd with a simple text: “Lyle’s?”

It hosted grad-school study sessions and end-of-semester blowouts and many a nightcap after a long night on the town. A handful of young alumni turned it into a Georgetown bar when the Hoyas made the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2015. Whenever one of us left the city, Lyle’s was the home to the last party, and after I went on my way, no return to Minneapolis was complete without at least one night in that dark, lovable hole. In town for a professional conference in Minneapolis some years ago, I dragged a group to the bar and blended a few of my worlds. After another day of state hockey, we would decamp there to relax, maybe lure in a few friends who weren’t into hockey to catch up with them, too. My last bar experience before the COVID-19 outbreak took me to Lyle’s after the last night of the 2020 tourney. At least I know I was one of the last people to enjoy it.

Ripped in 2001: Mary’s Place vs. Terry’s Place

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Twenty years ago he visited two Duluth bars — Mary’s Place and Terry’s Place. Both would later change their names. Mary’s Place became Clubhouse Sports Bar in 2005, then closed in 2014. The building at 132 N. 34th Ave. W. is now home to Stadium Pawn. Terry’s Place became Bergey’s in 2006 and remains in operation. Goodbuzz documented his experiences at Mary’s and Terry’s places for the March 7, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

“I haven’t had my sled out in a month,” complains the dude across the bar from me. “I worked 60 goddam hours this week.”

I tell him that I also worked 60 hours this week. I don’t mention that drinking is my job.

Then my new friend starts complaining about what a lousy game he just bowled. He seems cheery though. Complaining seems to make him happy; each self-deprecating remark inspiring a grin and a nod in my direction to indicate he knows that my life also sucks. All our lives suck. We’re at Mary’s Place / Stadium Lanes on Wednesday night.

Matchbooks from Duluth Restaurants and Bars

It’s been five years since Perfect Duluth Day published its first gallery of Duluth-area matchbooks. Since then, the collection has grown significantly. This new post features only matchbooks from bars and restaurants in Duluth. Some of them have been pulled out of the original post and placed in this new post; others are appearing for the first time.

Enjoy the nostalgia and, whatever you do, for the love of humanity, please close cover before striking.

Ripped at Goodsports Bar & Grill in 2001

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who visited Goodsports Bar & Grill at 2827 Oakes Ave. in Superior and penned this report for the Feb. 7, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. The former Goodsports location became home to Ace’s on 29th in 2009.]

I’ve discovered something. I was afraid to mention it over the past month because I didn’t want you sorry sheep following me around. But now that the 2000–2001 Superior Boot Hockey League season is over, I think it’s safe to let you know: Goodsports Bar & Grill rocks.

You probably don’t believe me, and you shouldn’t. Goodsports? What can be good about another sports bar with a bazillion televisions and the same old burger menu and Viking/Packer décor?

Well, let me explain: While hockey players are definitely some of the most annoying people in the world, the sport of hockey is sweet. It’s fast, it’s violent and it involves incredible skill. Best of all, there’s no marching band at halftime and no seventh-inning sing-along. Between periods, some goober drives a big tank in circles.

Despite pandemic challenges, Duluth area sees new crop of restaurants and bars in 2020

Kai Soderberg stands outside the Jade Fountain in March, prior to remodeling the former Chinese restaurant and opening it as a tiki bar in August. (Photo by Mark Nicklawske)

A surprising number of intrepid entrepreneurs opened new restaurants and bars in the Duluth area in 2020, despite the global pandemic. One notable trend is the number of new Black-owned businesses.

A look at Duluth-area food and drink spots we lost in 2020

Left: Maggie’s restaurant in Bayfield marked 40 years in business in August and announced its closure in October. Right: The Crooked Spoon Cafe in Grand Marais was destroyed by fire in April. (Photos via Facebook)

The scourge of COVID-19 has challenged restaurant and bar owners at every level. The temporary closures during the pandemic are too long to list, and the industry outlook for 2021 is filled with uncertainty, but surprisingly few businesses announced they were calling it quits in 2020.

Two of the region’s most notable restaurant losses occurred in small towns away from Duluth, and COVID-19 was perhaps only loosely to blame.

Avant-Garde Women: Eliane Brau, the Invisible Icon

Born Eliane Papai around 1935 in Spain, Eliane married her way into a couple other last names; she is mostly referred to as Eliane Brau, using the last name of her second husband. I think of her simply as Eliane, in deference to her singularity. Below I argue that her role in the “Letterist” movement of early 1950s Paris has been diminished; conversely, the achievements of the Letterist men have been overblown. It has been too easy to write her off as a passive “muse” for these men who indeed loved her fiercely. She deserves parity. Sadly, unlike her lovers, there is a distinct lack of information about her on the internet. I cannot even determine if she is still alive. Eliane is an invisible icon.

Ripped at the Anchor Bar in 2000

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. The Sultan of Sot documented his experience at the Anchor Bar in the Nov. 29, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

At the northern edge of the United States lies the state of Wisconsin, which leads the nation in alcohol consumption. At the northern edge of Wisconsin lies the broken-down city of Superior, which features the famed Tower Avenue, a street lined with dozens upon dozens of cheap dives. And at the northern edge of Tower Avenue lies the Anchor Bar, the Queen Mother of all dives, a place that represents everything good in the world.

The Anchor Bar is the love of my life. The beer selection is extensive, the food is excellent and both are cheaper than hell. And though all appearances indicate that it is a bar for thugs, there are no thugs there; the tough women behind the bar ran them out years ago. Fortunately, they grudgingly tolerate the hooligans and drunks, such as myself, who remain. Decorated in early pigsty, the place is dark and greasy-smelling, and is populated by the kind of people who just want to drink beer and act like real humans.

Schrodinger’s Beer: A Refutation of Quantum Physics from the Duluth Bar Scene

Latest Richardson brothers podcast episode. Full text below the jump.

Golden Bulldog owner still struggling to open pub near UMD

Imran Khan’s longtime vision of a drinking establishment in Duluth’s Endion neighborhood briefly came to fruition in February. Then the COVID-19 shutdown happened.

Since late August, Khan has described the status of his business as “partially open,” though the doors have generally been locked. Those hoping to try out the Golden Bulldog will need to wait while the search for a bar manager continues.

Ripped on Sunday in 2000

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Twenty years ago our anti-hero took a Sunday-night tour of drinking establishments in Proctor and nearby townships.]

“Oh yeah, now, Flip’s Bar, I’d stay away from that place,” this inebriated wastoid in a Motorhead T-shirt told me about three months back. “No, Flip’s is the roughest place in Proctor. It’s a real dive. You don’t wanna go there.” Naturally, after hearing this, I did want to go there. So when Sunday boredom started to get the best of me, I decided to stir things up and head to Flip’s.

There were two cars in the parking lot when I arrived, and one of them was for sale. I walked in the door to find no one there except an old guy behind the bar, who I presumed was Flip himself. I didn’t hang around to find out. Before the old dude even knew I had opened the door, I was back in my El Camino, swearing to milk this night for whatever I could get.

Jade Fountain tiki bar opens Aug. 7

The new Jade Fountain tiki bar has its grand opening scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. The space will be limited to 50 patrons at a time due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Drinks will be pre-made for additional safety.

Ripped at La Belle in 2000

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. La Belle was a nightclub operating at 1014 Tower Ave. in Superior until 2013. The Sultan of Sot documented his experience there in the July 26, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

After spending two hours drinking monkey wrenches while listening to Minneapolis band Puafua and watching cartoons, I got the urge to be in a cartoon. I got the urge to go to La Belle.

Located on the classiest stretch of Superior’s distinguished Tower Avenue, La Belle is a dive specializing in cheap drinks for undiscriminating tastes. Like anyone else whose clothing wasn’t purchased using Marlboro Miles, I had never been to La Belle. But it had to happen sooner or later.

Before I could even get myself a drink, I met the quintessential group of La Belle patrons. Three or four middleweights stood huddled around a SEGA Out Run video game, attempting to drive a video car around a video racetrack. After some extensive bragging, they decided the one with the highest score would drive home.

Ripped at JT’s Bar in 2000

[Editor’s note: Set your Gayback Machine to the last few months of the Clinton administration. For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who visited JT’s Bar at 1506 N. Third St. in Superior and penned this report for the June 28, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Additional historical notes: JT’s closed in the summer of 2011 and was replaced by Shenanigan’s Bar. In late 2012 it became the Whiskey Ward, which closed in 2013. Izzy’s BBQ Lounge & Grill opened in August 2014 and remains there today.]

The first time I went to JT’s, I was young and foolish. I didn’t know it was a gay bar. “This place looks like a gay bar,” I exclaimed to the room, provoking a barrage of turned heads and strange looks. But despite embarrassing myself in public, I actually ended up having a pretty good time that night.

Then, a few weeks ago, a press release from the White House showed up at the RipSaw office reading, “I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2000 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.” So, I decided to get drunk at JT’s. I simply could not pass up an invitation like that.

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