Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill announced on Facebook today it has closed after 32 years in business. The bar will become part of the new Lyric Kitchen and Bar, which is also replacing Porter’s restaurant as part of a series of renovation projects at Duluth’s Holiday Center.
A news release by Holiday Inn & Suites-Duluth and Lion Hotel Group notes the Lyric will open for business on Oct. 30 and will feature “a full bar and light-hearted dining experience that celebrates all things Duluth.” The menu will include burgers, pizzas and steaks. Breakfast will be served seven days a week.
[Editor’s note: It’s been a decade since smoking cigarettes was permitted in Duluth bars. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act was expanded by the 2007 state legislature to include “Freedom to Breathe” amendments intended “to protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.”
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 he went out on the first smoke-free night at Duluth bars and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]
There’s something strange in the air tonight at R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon. It’s called oxygen. Minnesota’s statewide ban on smoking in workplaces took effect on Oct. 1, and now people like me, who indeed consider bars to be “workplaces,” can breathe easier. As a result, I intend to work even harder now, starting with this gin and tonic.
Although I’m likely to live longer and need to spend less money on laundry thanks to the smoking ban — both of which will allow me to drink more — there are a few negative side effects. For one, the air is now so clear in here that’s it’s possible to see all the way across the room, increasing the odds that my landlord will find me.
John’s Red Lion Bar closed on Aug. 31, 2007, after more than 35 years in business. The building at 220 E. Superior St. has pretty much always been a bar. It was built in 1910 to house the Albert Salter Saloon. From the early 1950s to late ’60s it was the Two-Twenty Lounge. Before it became the Red Lion, it was briefly the Diamond Lounge.
[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. This piece was originally published one decade ago — in the Aug. 20, 2007 issue of the Transistor. The Copasetic Lounge had just opened at 322 E. Central Entrance. Barstools and operational toilets came soon after.]
I think it was close to a year ago when I first noticed the Copasetic Lounge on Central Entrance. Opening a bar right next door to Taco John’s, I thought, is nothing short of genius.
A sign read, “Coming Soon,” so there was nothing to do but wait. Every time I rode by on the DTA, I’d be sure to check and see if the place had finally opened. And every time, it was the same. “Coming Soon.” I began to lose faith.
But on the Friday of Bayfront Blues weekend when I finally see the boards off the windows and cars in the parking lot, I practically pull that dinger cord right off the fucken wall.
When I walk in, I’m confused for a split second, thinking maybe I came in the wrong door. Sure enough, there’s a bar with taps and people are sitting around drinking whiskey and beer, but this doesn’t look like any bar I’ve ever seen. This place looks more like a dentist’s waiting room than a drinking establishment. And while whenever I visit a bar I’ve never been to, I often feel like I’m about to “get a cavity filled,” it’s never quite so literal.
Canal Park gained a unique drinking establishment today. The Slip, located in the historic Suites Hotel building at 325 S. Lake Avenue, opened at 5 p.m.
Named for the nearby Minnesota Slip, which is home to iconic William A. Irvin ore boat, the bar specializes in whiskey and features cocktails made with vodka and gin from the nearby Vikre Distillery. In addition to spirits, the Slip has six types of wine and three types of cider on tap as well as five beers from Hoops Brewing.
A tavern, off-sale liquor outlet and supper club in Superior Township is under new ownership. John Hartwick purchased the 85-year-old Wabegon bar and grill on April 28 and hit the ground running, only shutting down for half a day to inventory the place. Paul Vernon, who owned the Wabegon for 10 years, held a going away pig roast party the week prior.
The Wabegon is a bit of a geographical oddity. Though it’s located in Wisconsin, roads leading in are through Minnesota, and the vibe of the business is Minnesota through and through. For residents of Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, it’s the primary gathering place for food and revelry; Superior residents, on the other hand, are barely aware it exists.
Drinking and dining options at Miller Hill Mall will improve by month’s end. Lucky’s 13 Pub is set to open at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway on Jan. 30. Duluthians will barely recognize the space, which was occupied for 25 years by Old Country Buffet.
This picture was originally posted on the Duluthians of Zenith Facebook page. So far, the Pickwick and Spalding Hotel have been eliminated. The poster figures it must be a bar in the Duluth area because it’s stamped with a Duluth photographer’s name on the back. Someone in the thread recommended posting it here because you guys know everything there is to know.
Joel and Emily Vikre founded the craft distillery in 2012 and started selling gin and aquavit to the public in 2014. With traditional distilling methods, Lake Superior water and the inventive use of local botanicals foraged in the Northwoods, Vikre is creating unparalleled products.
Area boozers and barflies have reached a general consensus: Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake is the perfect Duluth drinking establishment. The English-themed pub located at 805 E. Superior St. netted 34.5 percent of the vote in Perfect Duluth Day’s poll.
Sir Ben’s is a bit of an institution. It opened as a pub in 1978 (before that the building was a service station) with a focus on sandwiches and beer. The favored watering hole has long attracted a range of fans, from college students to musicians and business people.
Owners Josh and Kaila Stotts took over the tavern in April 2015. Josh was surprised to learn about the PDD poll. When asked what patrons appreciate about the bar, he said. “We try to offer a welcoming ambiance — a place where people can relax and feel really comfortable.”
Mike Mohr in front of one of his Bottoms Up beer dispensers
Gronk’s Bar and Grill in Superior has long been known for serving burgers upside down. In February, the bar was the first in the area to install a remarkable tap-beer delivery system that fills glasses from the bottom up. Since then another Superior drinking establishment, Jack’s Place, has also added a Bottoms Up system in its beer garden.
Gronk’s owner Mike Mohr first saw the Bottoms Up system at the Wisconsin State Fair. He was impressed with its technology and speed. Later, when his daughter was advocating for more craft beer taps at Gronk’s, he thought the novelty might be a good way to draw beer fans in.