Mar 24, 2021 - News
Scoop: Minneapolis dive bar Liquor Lyle's to be sold by longtime owners
Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

Beloved Minneapolis dive bar Liquor Lyle's wont re-open, at least not under its longtime owners.

The state of play: General manager Jeremiah Kline told Nick that the owners, after going back and forth over the past year, have made the decision to sell the Hennepin Avenue institution after nearly 50 years.

  • The ownership group is led by Russell Spence and Ken Meshbesher. A third partner, high-profile attorney Ron Meshbesher, died in 2018 and his stake is owned by his wife, Kim.
  • Kline told Meshbesher and Spence they would lose money if they reopened last year because the business is driven so much by big crowds.
  • The remaining original owners are in their 80s, and Kline said they're likely looking to sell both the real estate and business together.

What they're saying: Kline was coming up on 10 years at Lyle's, including three as GM, when the pandemic hit. He called the decision to sell "bittersweet." He discussed how previous GM and one of the city's first female bartenders, Valorie Soberg, had a mentality that the customer was not always right.

  • "The owners sided with the staff, and they always treated people good," Kline said. "After Val left I tried to keep that mentality."

Down memory lane: The windowless bar, with its red vinyl booths, was a popular hangout for journalists, writers, musicians, actors and comedians.

  • Among its notable customers were Tom Arnold, David Carr, Paul Magers, Vince Flynn, Josh Hartnett and Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, according to an oral history of the bar from 2015 in MinnPost.
  • Bill Lindee, who managed the bar in the 1970s, told MinnPost: "It was a mix of customers in those days: rednecks, run-of-the-mill folks, college folks. A lot of northern Minnesota people liked it — they’d come down and say it reminded them of the bars back home."
  • It remained a melting pot until the end, with its much loved 2-for-1 happy hour, when servers would bring out free pans of chicken wings.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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