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Friday, February 08, 2008

BAD city leadership and another failed business.

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Blogger Bob said...

Regulars mourn closing of Maurer's Parkside Lounge, a neighborhood hangout for decades
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 02/07/2008 11:46:30 PM CST

Patron Julie Hawkins said: "We'll group up somewhere ... I'm going to keep my connections to my favorite people; it's a real good group of fine people." (SCOTT TAKUSHI, Pioneer Press)When Maurer's Parkside Lounge makes its last call Saturday night, it won't be known as a place that takes itself too seriously.

Old-timers gab at the East Side St. Paul bar over a morning Miller Lite or coffee in the dimness, their backs to a wall covered with pictures - like one of a man face-down in a urinal under the text "Rock bottom: You'll know it when you get there."

The sign "Horn's Corner" marks the spot where the regular drinkers sit, which is right near a sign that says, "Shirts and Shoes Required. Bras and Panties Optional."

Sure, it may have been ritzier when it started in the mid-1960s with its booths and live bands. And it may have been packed with people and swingin' in the 1970s.

But the Clarence Street neighborhood joint still has a small but loyal blue-collar following. And the regulars - some of whom have hung out there for more than 40 years - are going to miss it something fierce.

"It's really a sad, sad thing," said 66-year-old regular Judy Purcell.

When the place started as the Wall-Matt Lounge in the mid-1960s, longtime customers say, it had a bandstand and a dance floor where drinkers would groove to hits like "Proud Mary" and even "Tiny Bubbles."

It attracted a number of 3M employees - such as now-retired machine inspector Jerry Mazurkiewicz and his wife, data processing supervisor Rosemary "Pete" Mazurkiewicz.

The two came to the bar on its first day and have been coming ever since.

"It was very nice, very classy" when it started up, Rosemary said.
They had a celebration there when they got married, and they swayed to "Make the World Go Away" at their 40th anniversary party there in December.

The regulars have seen history through Parkside's eyes.

Marvin Block, a 67-year-old retired 3M factory worker, saw the 1969 moon landing while tending bar there. And when legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks - himself a Parkside drinker - marched his team to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," regulars sent him a telegram each week to root him on, Block said.

Purcell became the first female bartender there, which was a tough job in the 1970s.

She recalled one male drinker - probably looped - asking her, "Hey, think you can do a man's job? Think you can take a punch like a man?"

Her response: "Bring it on!"

The guy went back to boozing.

The place's heyday seemed to be in the 1970s, when a radio station named it one of the two best bars in the Twin Cities, and lines of customers waited to get in every Friday and Saturday night.

The joint ended up going through more than half a dozen owners, but the one who really made a mark was Tom Maurer, who bought it in 1992 and operated it as a "Cheers"-style neighborhood bar.


Friends who have been drinking and socializing for years at Maurer's Parkside Lounge will be displaced after the Lake Phalen-area bar closes this weekend. They include, from left, Bob Scott, John Votel and Dave Christensen, who all have been patrons for at least 20 years. (SCOTT TAKUSHI, Pioneer Press)still speak of him glowingly. Bars were his business, and Maurer tended to customers as regularly as he tended bar.
"He was compassionate," Rosemary Mazurkiewicz said. "He took an interest in people."

When Maurer had a stroke about four years ago, his son, Rick, now 46, took over the management.

These days, the Parkside seems mellower than it used to be. It's got the ubiquitous pull-tab booth, pool table and couple of bowling and hunting video games. Younger types also have come in to warble karaoke or compete at the "Guitar Hero" performance video game.

But time has taken a toll on the Parkside. Business already had been ebbing, Rick Maurer said, when the smoking ban dealt it a deadly blow, taking away more than a quarter of its clientele.

So on Saturday, he'll gather the troops and all the old-timers for a "Last Call" party.

Maurer said he'll bring food at 2 p.m. and offer drink specials and free jukebox music throughout the day and into the night.

Former employees are encouraged to stop by between 5 and 8 p.m. to share photos and memories. Maurer will hand out T-shirts to old-timers and friends of his father's.

After Saturday, the bar will close for good and soon will be razed to make room for a new Cub Foods.

"The bartenders are keeping books with e-mails," Mazurkiewicz said wistfully. "We'll try to stay in contact."

Alex Friedrich can be reached at or 651-228-2109.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This over in my neighborhood, so I'll ask where was the 'bad city leadership' on this?

There's a huge part of the story missing here for the heart string effect that Bob is caught in.


12:18 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Eric, it is, and has been my contention the SMOKING BAN was a bad deal. Mind you now, I am not a cigarette smoker.

I use to go to LOUIES with a friend and you CHOKED to death in that place if you weren't a smoker. The ceiling was stained heavy with cigarette smoke, you could scrape it off with a butter knife.

I didn't have to expose myself to that stinking environment, I chose to. Why should I impose my will of choosing not to smoke on others? I don't have that right. Louie's was clearly a HEAVY SMOKING ESTABLISHMENT.

I know the powers that be would like to put the spin on this and say the smoking ban hasn't adversely effected businesses, but it has. Their LIARS protecting their careers in public service.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I almost forgot.. I'm interested in the part of the story I'm missing Eric.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He received a nice payment for his property to make room for the grocery store.

While I'm not going to re-hash the smoking ban and think that the statewide ban is better, the place would still be there if he wasn't made a very nice for his property.

He'll be spending a lot of time at his lake property enjoying it. When I talked with 'em, they were sentimental about the place but seem happy to move on to the next step.

There is someone more informed on this than I here at a-democracy. I'll let him fill in the blanks.

Parkside is not closing over the smoking ban, its closing because the owner accepted a buy-out to make room for a much needed grocery store.


1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK folks this one is mine.

The bar was doing fine! The family is great. I did the real estate deal. They are getting a good price for the bar and Cub Foods is going to build on that site.

Rick didn't have to sell. His Dad (who was a great person and did a bike rally for the kids in the neighborhood) is looking down from heaven smiling at what his kids were able to sell the bar for.

Bob you are wrong on this one. The neighbors are sad to lose a nice family bar but they are also happy to see the new development.

Everyone is coming out OK.

Chuck Repke

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Chuck.

So, Chuck Repke stepped in with a win-win for the small business owner, new business and the neighbors.

Sounds like "GOOD city leadership helping everyone win".


1:48 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

The OWNER clearly blames the SMOKING BAN for the demise of his establishment. PERIOD!

Rick Maurer said, when the smoking ban dealt it a deadly blow, taking away more than a quarter of its clientele.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, call the guy and talk to him. Chuck and I know him and have talked with him. You're basing your opinion on what somebody else wrote. You should know better.

It would stupid for us to argue at this point. The place didn't go into demise, it's clients dropped to 75%. Instead of having a 100 customers in there, he had 75. Not bad being so close to the city and county border. There will be a correction now that the smoking ban is statewide.

They were doing fine when the offer came in or Chuck could have negotiated for a much lower price.

Make some calls Bob.


2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob - Rick was a regular at City Hall against the smoking ban from the start.

I am sure he felt compelled to take a whack at the ordinance.

If you saw the shirt Rick was wearing in the photo in the article that is his dad with his (always in his mouth) cigar that is imprinted on the shirt he was wearing.

So, yes Rick hated the smoking ban, but his business did not fail and he is still looking for the right place to start a new bar (but he is thinking of taking the money and buying a bar closer to his cabin).

Chuck Repke

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you admit it huh Repke? Another businessman that you've rolled up and sent packing so your non profit gansters can move in get rich of of another development that no one wants. It'll just be another place for people to shop lift ciaggarettes, all paid for with city tax dollars, suprise.....suprise! Sounds like hardball racketeering to me Chuck. Where was this guys prperty rights respected in this deal. First the smoking abn, and when that didn't put him out of business, they pick up the "red phone" and place the call to you. You probably have the bulldozer waiting up the street.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi All,

I copied this thread and dropped it off over at Parkside for Rick..

I hope he joins us here.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Council Agenda

2. Authorization to Execute Development Agreement with KTJ Limited Partnership
One Hundred Eighty–One for New Cub Store and Retail Space to be Located on
West Side of Intersection at Clarence and Rose in Phalen Village, and Approve
Budget Amendment including Pay-as-you-go Tax Increment Note, Phalen Village
Greater East Side, District 2.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chuck, rick like so many other citizens of saint paul are GETTING THE HELL OUT OF HERE. It's the likes of you and your friends in city hall with your gestapo policies chasing us away.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi All,

I talked to AL of Al's Billiards in Roseville. He told me the smoking ban had hurt his business significantly. He had to lay off employees and run the pool hall by himself. Which means longer hours for Al just to stay in business.

Troy the manager of Perkins restaurant on University will tell you the smoking ban has hurt Perkins Restaurant.

A friend of mine told me Vick the owner of Christensen's Bar was telling him the smoking ban has hurt his business.

Brian the manager of Mickeys on the west end of 7th. street will tell you the smoking ban has hurt Mickeys restaurant.

I have a feeling most restaurants and bars will tell us the smoking ban has hurt there profit margin. The smoking ban is anti capitalist and is just another form of government restricting folks freedoms. OPRESSION.

If non smokers were really concerned about their health they wouldn't of frequented restaurants and bars where smoking was allowed.
Smoking didn't keep people from these businesses or their profits would have INCREASED when the ban went into effect.

This smoking band was pushed ahead through the state legislature by a bunch of do gooders with to much time on their hands in wanting to feel significant in their jobs. Didn't this crusade start here in Saint Paul?

When are we going to get with the times and sell booze on Sunday here in Minnesota? If someone had the common sense to do this our taxpayers money would be spent in our communities instead of the border towns of Wisconsin?

When we going to sell the good fire works here instead of our citizens having to run for the Wisconsin border to spend their tax dollars in Wisconsin to get the good stuff.

How many MILLIONS of dollars would our citizens spend here in Minnesota if they didn't have to run to Wisconsin to circumvent the laws here?

Seems our leaders here are good at damaging businesses and don't have a clue how to preserve or generate a healthy business environment.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... to the owner of Dean's bar on Rice St. he will tell you too just how damaging the no smoking has been on his business, last time I talked to him he was putting it up on the for sale market too. I can name off at least 5 other bars/restaurants that I have talked to that will all say the same thing about the smoking ban.

I personally spend a lot less time and money at the bar/restaurants...that can be viewed at a savings for me but definitely a loss for businesses and I am sure I am not the lone ranger having social gatherings at my home and friends home instead of public locations.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guldens on Highway 61 will tell you the same thing....smoking ban hurt his business. I used to eat out MOST of the time. Now I eat at home MOST of the time and the sole reson is because I can sit and relax and smoke afterwards. When I do go out to eat, I make sure it is accorss the border. I've also changed my buying habits. I either bu the smokes in Wisconsin or at the casino. If Minnesota doesn't want me to smoke anywhere, then they are not going to get the tax money of my purchases either.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing the St. Paul city council is not telling you is, the smoking ban has hurt many businesses. The city of St. Paul even paid for several bars to install outside smoking areas. Most bars are dead after 9:00 to 10:00 PM. If you go to Mancini’s, go ask John or Pat and they will tell you.

The marketplace should always decide if a bar is to be non-smoking. This action by the city council and then the governor is hurting businesses. I know of several people who were let go because the bar they worked at could not afford to keep them on.

The guy that started the no smoking ban in bars was Dave Thune. Dave Thune used to smoke in his city council office until just recently, so much for the Clean Indoor Air Act. Dave took a do as I say, not as I do attitude.

One other interesting thing, smoking is supposed to be so bad and we were told that because of it we had to pay for all of these people and their medical care. That is why healthcare was so expensive. Well the smoking rate has been going down, fewer people are requiring the level of medical treatment that was once needed, but our health insurance keeps going up. WHY? You also see the CEOs in charge of these healthcare plans are retiring with multi-million dollar retirement plans. As just reported in the news lately the retiring CEO had to pay over $750 million of his retirement back. Now Hillary and Barack want to give health care to everyone, modeled after the socialist system. You only have to look at what is going on in England and Canada with their universal healthcare where healthcare is rationed. Recently, a woman in England had to give birth in a restroom because the hospital refused to care for her.

Sorry for getting off the subject a little, but these are crazy times we are living in.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, if more politicians thought like you, Minnesota would be a better place to live.

Good post....

Capitolist -vs- socialist

It looks like Chuck and Eric have run for cover.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Smoking bans are not a liberal invention. More states have them than those who do not. Red states like Arkansas have them.

2. Hillary and Obama's health plan is nothing like Europe or Canada. Its too much for you to read them online so I'll make it short for you, everything remains the same, people who are not covered will be covered like an expansion of medicare. Since the health care pool will be bigger by 60 million, they will negotiate for lower price for services and drugs - like we do for seniors and prisoners. It seemed to somewhat work for Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. Hillary's plan makes it mandatory to have coverage, Obama's focus on lowering the costs so you can afford it.

3. I know the constitution well enough to know that you don't have a right to smoke. While I support a statewide ban, which we have now, cities can do what they want as long as it doesn't violate the constitution. If its repressive, the 'free-market' will have businesses moving to another city.

4. Free markets and capitalism are regulated. There are whole government agencies who sole focus is one area of the economy (FDA, FAA, FCC, Commerce Dept, IRS, SEC etc). I forget the latin phrase to describe why but, it goes like this;
You have the right to open a business but, depending on where you have regulations to follow. You don't like it, open it up elsewhere.

5. Smoking bans are not do-good legislation. There is real science behind it. Another thing that is not popular around here.

6. This bar was not closing down, we have been fighting for a CUBS FOOD for a while and before making a deal went onto negotiations with the owner. The price was a nice one and he made a good deal. Neighborhood bars across the state and country are in decline, not because of smoking bans(though that adds to it with the long-time loyal customers) but because of the chain restaurants. How many St Paulites are over at TGIF's and other chains near malls on the weekend? Or, at the latest trendy bar in Minneapolis?

South of where I live over on Arcade, there was two bars a block for a few blocks. I bet you couldn't count 150 people between the eight bars. Same thing with a little better numbers on Rice street in the North End neighborhood. I cannot attest to University ave but, Selby is not doing so well (one owner tried to blame the ban but it was found out to be months and months in the hole before the ban).

With gas at 3 dollars a gallon and a statewide smoking ban in place, I doubt people are driving over to Wisconsin for worse beer, worse football fans and freedom to light a heater indoors. If they are they won't be for long as the Governor is contemplating signing a smoking ban.

The marketplace was shutting down some of these bars before the smoking ban.


5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,

Want to know the password?

I know a place where you can get a bump and a smoke and play some cards right here is St. Paul.

The place is packed and making money. So don't tell me the marketplace doesn't drive this establishment.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The work place smoking ban is state wide and is in the process of being approved for Wisconsin.

The only change in the Minnesota ban was that bars and restaraunts are now inclded like any other work place.


Chuck Repke

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smokers give bar's 'production' rave reviews
At Lake Mille Lacs tavern, cigarettes are merely props used to act out an exception in smoking ban
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 02/11/2008 12:03:29 AM CST

LAKE MILLE LACS - On a night when wind chills were expected to reach minus-40 or below, revelers hunkered down for a night of drinking at Barnacle's Resort, a popular winter redoubt for ice fishermen and snowmobilers on the north shore of Lake Mille Lacs.

Helmets and jackets were stuffed everywhere. A plastic kiddie pool full of crushed ice held red meat, which was raffled off throughout the night. Two tables of Texas Hold 'Em were full, and someone was telling the story of the night Minnesota Vikings fullback Jim Kleinsasser sat there - right there - in that very stool. Smoke wafted through the bar.

Wait ... smoke? As in cigarettes?

On this Saturday night, and every Saturday night going forward until someone tells them to stop, the owners at Barnacle's are allowing their customers to light up. It's not so much an act of civil disobedience against the statewide smoking ban as it is exploiting an exception that allows smoking as part of a theatrical production.

You see, all those people drinking and smoking and laughing and telling the government to mind its own business? They're really actors.

"You are looking at a stage. You are looking at a playhouse," said Mark Benjamin, who cooked up the idea. "Those are not cigarettes - those are props."


The night was a big hit with patrons - er, actors - who bought $1 buttons that said "ACT NOW!" to denote that they were part of the production. Playbills were printed up, and the local police



were notified. Sheila Kromer, Barnacle's co-owner, said the police told her they wouldn't visit unless someone complained.
Charlie and Sylvia Tapelt live in the area and are regulars at Barnacle's. Charlie said it was great to be able to smoke in a bar again instead of standing outside in the cold, a notion his wife seconded - even though she doesn't smoke.

If customers don't want to drink in a smoky bar, they have the choice to go somewhere else, Sylvia Tapelt said.

"People should be allowed to decide," she said.

John and Vicki Kurkowski were visiting for the weekend from their home in White Bear Lake. Asked what it was like to smoke in a bar again, a wide smile spread across John Kurkowski's face.

"It's great," he said.

Since the smoking ban went into effect in October, compliance has been good. However, when the final version of the ban was hammered out last year, state lawmakers inserted a provision allowing smoking as part of a theatrical production. But they never defined the meaning of a "theatrical production."

That's where Mark Benjamin comes in. A lawyer and nonsmoker, Benjamin said he was a partner at a big firm making big money until he started growing his hair long and wearing an earring. He knew about the theatrical exception, but it wasn't until he was at the Renaissance Festival, an annual event where people dress in medieval costumes, that he had his epiphany.

If Shakespeare was right - that all the world's a stage - why can't a bar become a theater? And does it matter if the "actors" don't have to memorize lines? After all, who's to define the meaning of art?

"We're telling the Legislature when they convene (Tuesday). They can either get rid of this exception, or they can listen - actually listen - to the small bar owners who tried to be heard last year," Benjamin said.

Amid all the Vikings jerseys and snowmobiler jackets, Benjamin and two friends worked the bar in Renaissance costumes, making hourly announcements about the "production." Their garb bothered no one - they may as well have been dressed as nicotine fairies, for all anyone cared.

Benjamin had been looking for a bar to take him up on his idea for some time before he found Barnacle's. Owner Kromer said she also knew about the exception and had been looking for a lawyer to see what she could do about it - "some way to celebrate it, I guess you could say."

Kromer said business is dramatically down this winter, the busiest time of the year for the bar. She said she testified against the smoking ban, to no avail.

"Several of the legislators said, 'You know, you've got to be innovative. Come up with something to get the people in your bar.' Right? OK. What's wrong with a theater night? Is that not being creative? If it can bring business back into my bar (it's good). There are a lot of bars that are hurting," Kromer said.

For this night at least, Kromer said, the customers were back.

Jason Hoppin can be reached at or 651-228-5311.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that, what is so sad is that one ass hole in Northern Minnesota is going to get them to change the law and not allow cigerrettes in stage performances.

What a dick. There is always someone who has to screw it up for people.

Did anyone else stop by the Parkside for their closing? Huge crowd. I got to talk to Judy and she had a picture of her when she was behind the bar in her cowgirl get-up in the seventies. NOW I understand why the crowds were bigger back then woooow wooooow!


Chuck Repke

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric said- 5. Smoking bans are not do-good legislation. There is real science behind it. Another thing that is not popular around here.

Ya we know what kind of science Eric. SELECT science fact mixed with untruths,,, a lot like global warming. mariquanna prohibition and alcohol prohibition.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

TOBACCO, is slowly but surely making it's way to being illegalized.

Looks like organized crime has a future in tobacco.

There is some science for you Eric.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:52 PM  

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