Katie Fast, left, and Julie LaTourelle stand outside 330 N. 57th Ave. W. The two women purchased the former home of RJ’s Coffee Den and plan to open a new bar in West Duluth. (Photo by Mark Nicklawske)
Two women plan to open a new bar later this fall in a West Duluth neighborhood that boasts some of the oldest drinking establishments in the city.
Katie Fast and Julie LaTourelle, operating as K & J Industries LLC, recently purchased the former RJ’s Coffee Den at 330 N. 57th Ave. W. The century-old building is being remodeled and is expected to reopen as the Boreal House in late November.
Back in May, a collection of Superior bar memorabilia was briefly displayed at the Spirit Room. On a sheet of white paper, a list of old Superior bars was created, and folks passing through added to it.
[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. In recognition of Thirsty Pagan Brewing’s recent move from its longtime location on Broadway Street to a newly renovated home at Winter Street Depot, we dust of this drunken report from 2007, when the business was in its first year of operation after taking over Twin Ports Brewing Company. This story originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2007 issue of the Transistor.]
Like the word “Christian,” the word “pagan” makes me vaguely uncomfortable. It’s not that I don’t want to think about the gods when I’m drinking; it’s that I don’t want to think about bearded guys in wool stocking caps who smell like a sheepdog. Unfortunately, as I walk into Thirsty Pagan Brewing, it’s difficult to think of anything else.
The TPB, located on the corner of Broadway Street and Ogden Avenue in Superior, is the brewpub formerly known as Twin Ports Brewing Co. Walking inside is a lot like walking into some stoner’s basement grow-room. The main reason for this is the hoard of thickety furbags slumping over tables and drum kits. Tonight, however, the grow-room mood is enhanced because one side of a Hamm’s beer sign on the ceiling seems to be out for repairs, leaving its exposed fluorescent rods to blaze with retina-searing intensity. While one side of the room enjoys the classic sign, naked bulbs shine down on all the shadowless, drunken truth on the other side.
Thirsty Pagan Brewing entered its 14th year of business on May 1. There was no fanfare, simply because owner Steve Knauss was so busy he forgot. Knauss and his staff have been working around the clock to ready the brewpub’s new spot at 1615 Winter St. for opening.
[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. Few people will remember Score Sports Bar & Grill; it existed for a brief period spanning 2008 and 2009 at 21 N. Fourth Ave. W. in Downtown Duluth. The location is best known for Duluth Athletic Club Bar & Grill, but six different bar/restaurants occupied the space during a 15-year span at the turn of the millennium. Ol’ Slim paid a visit in April 2009 to file this report for the weekly Transistor.]
Considering the proximity to Duluth Police headquarters, not to mention the cops actually working right inside the door, it’s a bit surprising to see the sidewalk outside Score Bar slippery with a fine, fresh spray of urine, and littered with an array of beer cans. Then again, I’d bet that none of the kids sucking on Michelob Golden Light inside the place are attending the University of Minnesota Duluth on a scholarship.
And sure enough, as I walk in the door, some sorry tyke is leaning against the wall and mopping tears from his cheeks as one of Duluth’s finest writes him up. The crime undoubtedly has something to do with pulling out his trouser snake right there on Fourth Avenue West, which will be his claim to fame in the newspaper’s “Matters of Record” column, his greatest achievement before flunking out of business school, hopping into the 2009 Chevy Silverado his proud parents bought for him and driving back to Anoka or wherever the fuck sorry losers like this spring from.
In late September 2018 it would have been a challenge to read a newspaper or watch a television news program without encountering the phrase “Devil’s Triangle.” In case anyone has already forgotten, I’ll briefly explain. It was related to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court and Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against him. With Kavanaugh’s character in question, everything about him became subjected to analysis, including his 1983 high school yearbook, where the phrase “Devil’s Triangle” appeared in a long list of Kavanaugh’s accomplishments meshed with a slew of inside jokes.
This is a pretty typical thing. My own 1991 high school yearbook lists my involvement in luge. My high school didn’t have an official luge team, of course. But the entry isn’t entirely a joke. I organized several sledding events with my peers — just the traditional riding of orange Paris and red Norca plastic sleds down the hills of Duluth. We referred to ourselves as the Denfeld High School Luge Team.
As you can probably guess, the odds are 100 percent in favor of a search for “luge, sex term” on the internet generating an eye-opening result. It turns out that mentioning in my yearbook the simple act of going sledding with my friends could be interpreted as bragging about fellatio skills.
[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. After the Fox-Sutherland V.F.W. Post 6320 in West Duluth closed, it merged with the Lincoln Park neighborhood post. The town’s infamous drunken scribbler paid a visit in February 2009 to file this report for the weekly Transistor. Historical note: One year later, V.F.W. Post 137 was renamed the McConnell-Modeen Post. It remains open at 2023 W. Michigan St.]
It seems camaraderie among Veterans of Foreign Wars is on the decline. Duluth is down to its last V.F.W. club, the Duprey-Alexander Post 137 in the friendly West End neighborhood. There’s no sign on the front of the building, or any other visible indication the club exists, but the V.F.W. is indeed still there, open every day from 3 p.m. until the volunteer bartender decides to lock up.
Tonight, the clientele consists of a young couple at the bar playing cribbage and a small group meeting in the next room. My arrival does not excite the volunteer bartender at all, and I can’t blame her. Working on tips alone, she must be pulling in $4 an hour. It’s only 8 p.m., but she clearly wants to close up shop right now. I think I’ll try ordering a margarita just to watch her reaction.
A new complimentary shuttle service will provide a link between Duluth’s craft beverage purveyors. Starting Feb. 8 the Hopper, a 15-passenger van, will run between Canal Park, Lincoln Park and Downtown every Friday and Saturday night.
[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. Ten years ago the Sultan of Sot visited a trio of West Duluth bars and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]
To borrow a term from the card game blackjack, I’ve decided to “double down” on my drinking today. What that means is, I’m at the Rustic Bar in West Duluth at 8 a.m. My goal is to get drunk by midday, go home and pass out, then wake up and go to the bars again. If I manage to get drunk twice, well, I’ve doubled my winnings.
On top of that, drinking while the buses are still running means there’s no need to spend valuable beer money on a taxi. In tough economic times, we all need to get thrifty, right?
For some reason it’s boiling hot inside the Rustic, which I didn’t expect on a January morning. There are four other guys at the bar, and two of them have stripped down to their T-shirts. Eventually, one of them asks the bartender why it’s so hot. She looks at the thermostat and tells us it’s set for 80 degrees.