Local Current Blog

Storied Minneapolis watering hole Liquor Lyle’s won’t reopen, going up for sale

Photographer Jenni Konrad captured a typical spread of drinks at Lyle's, known for its 2-for-1 specials, in 2008. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Liquor Lyle’s, a 58-year-old bar that’s been a longtime hangout for members of the music, entertainment, and media scene at the northern edge of South Minneapolis, will not reopen under its present ownership, reports Axios.

General manager Jeremiah Kline told reporter Nick Halter that “the owners, after going back and forth over the past year, have made the decision to sell the Hennepin Avenue institution” after a long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The remaining original owners are in their 80s, and Kline said they’re likely looking to sell both the real estate and business together,” writes Halter.

Housed in a commercial building at Hennepin and Franklin that dates to 1926, the bar opened as Lyle’s Liquors in 1963, according to a MinnPost oral history. With a clientele that ranged from downtown businesspeople to working-class patrons to entertainers, Lyle’s was a staple of the Minneapolis neighborhood that became a national music hub in the 1980s.

“David Carr, Tom Arnold and I ran heavy for a while,” Minnesota musician Paul Metsa told MinnPost. “We opened up Lyle’s from ’84 to ’86 semi-regularly […] There were no windows so you’d have no idea if it was morning, last call or the middle of the afternoon. We call that the black hole.”

When Carr, a famed journalist who ultimately left Minneapolis to cover media for the New York Times, died in 2015, his friends held an “Irish wake” at Lyle’s.

Photo by Jenni Konrad (CC BY-NC 2.0)