Bars / Drinking Establishments Posts

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

(Part One of an essay series on women of the avant-garde.) 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 — not to pretend to some intimacy, but 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.

Convivial Memories of an Epicurean Hedonist Con Mucho Gusto

My whole life was organized around going out for drinks. The party’s over.

The Duluth art and music scene seems preserved in amber. I can see it in my mind’s eye from every angle, but I can’t touch it.

Has the virus infected time?

I was days away from participating in a group art show in Duluth Coffee Company and its Roasteria taproom. The Facebook event page was hours from launching. All the art is on the walls. I left a hammer there I was going to go back for, just before the stay-at-home orders unfolded. It’s probably right where I left it, timelessly suspended as if let go by an astronaut in orbit.

The Embassy art-church had just opened, promising untold events, unseen sights, and unheard sounds. It reached as if for the hand of God in the Sistine Chapel — a frozen gesture.

Richardson Bros. Ghost Story “The Haunted Groom”

“The Haunted Groom” is a supernatural adventure story set largely in the Duluth bar scene. It explores PTSD, addiction, abusive relationships, and the coronavirus lockdown. Full story below.

Part 1: I Married a Ghost. Part 2: Trapdoor to Hell. Part 3: The Demonizer.

Ripped at the Kom-on-Inn 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 he visited the Kom-on-Inn in West Duluth and published this report for the April 5, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

Granted, it does not take much to amaze me, but when I entered the Kom-on-Inn my spine just about shot out of the top of my head. I had always been under the impression that the Kom-on-Inn was a boring bar that was empty most of the time. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was … I don’t even know where to begin, so let me just walk you through the place.

First of all, it is important to know that everyone—every last person in the bar—was smoking a cigarette. I am not exaggerating when I say it was difficult to see across the room. At the very back of the bar, where I came in, a bunch of Tommy Boys talked on cellular telephones and shot pool with heavily hair-sprayed and lip-linered girls drinking bottles of Mountain Dew. Apparently they were stationed there to give newcomers like me the wrong impression of the place, for just past them, everything became drastically different.

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