Local Current Blog

Duluth’s Red Herring Lounge to close on June 10, says owner

Red Herring Lounge exterior during a Mark Mallman performance in 2016. (Jay Gabler/MPR)

After precisely five years as a music venue in downtown Duluth, the Red Herring Lounge will close on June 10. The news comes via a Facebook post from owner Bob Monahan, who notes that the venue’s 1st Street building is up for sale.

“It has been a WILD RIDE to say the least,” writes Monahan, “a ride I would not like to continue to ride, at this point. Bar ownership (throwing parties for a living) a young-person’s game. If I was making a bunch of money, I’d hire someone to run it, make appearances at all the big shows, give a bunch of high fives and back pats, and maybe jump behind the bar for a hot minute…YEE HAW. Unfortunately, that (making money) is not the case, and never really was.”

In addition to its main-floor stage and bar, the venue also contained a smaller music room and recording studio downstairs. Its long wall served as an art gallery.

The former home of the Lake Superior Fish Company became a venue for a wide range of local and touring bands, and hosted shows as part of events ranging from the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival to shows sponsored by The Current on All Pints North weekends. Starting in 2015, Monahan’s annual Super Big Block Party drew top regional headliners.

By last fall, though, the venue’s business seemed bumpy and Monahan laid off his entire staff. As recently as last month, Monahan told the Duluth News Tribune he was hoping to keep the venue open. Now, he writes, June 10 will mark the end of the Red Herring whether or not the building is sold.

Although the Red Herring won’t be an official Homegrown venue during the music festival’s run from April 28 to May 5, Monahan says he may host “a couple-few ‘unofficial’ parties” during the festival, plus a “birthday/farewell” event in June.