Sunday, July 12, 2009

Last Call at Al's Bar in St. Louis Park

As you may have read earlier, Al's Bar in St. Louis Park has a special place in my heart. Therefore, when my uncle called me to regale me with stories of his youth on time spent in that bar, and spent with his father (my grandfather - a man that I never met), well it just made Al's closing all that more melancholy. As my uncle admitted that his first bar drink likely occurred there as well, and over a cribbage board across the table from his dad, I knew I'd be letting the family down if I didn't say goodbye to the bar in person.

So with my wife up for an adventure we headed out for their last Friday night happy hour, and needless to say, we weren't the only ones that showed up to bid farewell to this institution. The place was packed wall to wall, and spilled out of the back door and into the parking lot.

The wait for service at the bar was a long one, but I got myself a Budweiser (to bookend the one I had there 27 years earlier - dear God, 27 years!) and got my lovely bride a Bud Light, and we made our way for the back door. Along the way, we ran into these two - it is nice to see that cribbage is still being played in this bar.

We finally made it outside. It took us a while, and my wife was propositioned and prodded the entire way despite my thinking that I was leading her safely through the crowd. Memo to self: Don't take a hot chick through a crammed bar full of men that have been drinking all day and assume she's just fine behind you. Idiot.

We had just one beer - wading through the animals again to get another from the bar inside seemed far too high a price to pay - and we prepared to go. As we turned our backs on this little space in family history, with its brick facade, burned out neon sign, and overflowing revelers, for just a second there I thought I caught the faintest sound of a old piano playing the 12th Street Rag.

Goodbye, Al's. And thanks.


  1. Mike: Great job! It really brought back memories. If Gramps could look down from Heaven,I know he would have a great smile!

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