Local Current Blog

Lee’s Liquor Lounge to close after 62 years in downtown Minneapolis

Lee's Liquor Lounge in 2010. (Jenny Salita/CC BY-ND 2.0)

After 62 years of business, Lee’s Liquor Lounge is shutting down. Once a small corner bar, Lee’s has evolved over the years and become a popular hangout spot for music fans of all kinds — as well as, in recent years, Twins fans attending games at nearby Target Field. On any given day Lee’s Liquor Lounge is filled with people listening to music, dancing, and supporting the venue.

So why would the well-loved venue close its doors? The decision comes down to a parking lot.

As the Star Tribune reports, the Minneapolis City Council had let the bar use an adjacent parking lot over the years. With 84 spots, the lot became essential for customers in an area where finding parking can be a challenge, but all that is about to change. The city will use the lot to store building supplies when construction for the new Southwest Light Rail begins, leaving Lee’s feeling it has no choice but to shut down.

The venue seemed to have a new lease on life as recently as 2015, when longtime patron Craig Kruckeberg bought Lee’s from owner Louis Sirian. Kruckeberg preserved the venue’s vintage vibe, while making modest improvements. While the venue hosted a wide range of bands, it was perhaps best-known for classic country and rockabilly sounds, making it a favorite spot for swing dancers.

It’s unclear what will become of the space, which dates to the turn of the 20th century. Fans have three more weeks to visit Lee’s before it closes. The bar’s final act will be on May 14 and feature country musician Dale Watson, who has spent a lot of time at Lee’s during his career and even wrote a song about the beloved Twin Cities venue.

Simone Cazares is a student at St. Catherine University. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.