The building that houses Lee’s Liquor Lounge was erected in 1891 to serve as a warehouse and did so until 1957. At that time Lee & Sally Triemert turned part of the building into Lee’s Liquor Bar, now one of the oldest saloons in Minneapolis. In the early 1970s the space next to Lee’s became Glenwood Liquors, owned in part by the famous Minnesota Viking football player Carl Eller.
In 1976 Lee Triemert passed away and in 1977 Louis and Carmen Sirian bought the business from his widow Sally. Louis was approached by Reggie Coulahan, then owner of the Uptown Bar and Skyway Lounge, who was representing the Triemert estate. The Sirian’s borrowed the money from AAA entertainment, a pool table distributor; they took over Glenwood Liquor’s space next door, and loaded the place with pool tables. They called it Lee’s Pool & Liquor.
In 1985 a local startup band called Trailer Trash approached Louis
and asked if they could play in his bar sometime. By that time Louis was no longer enamored with the pool hall business, the clientele had gotten rough. So he transformed Lee’s into Lee’s Liquor Lounge, a dance hall, knocking down walls and adding a stage.
Lee’s has stayed the same ever since. It has hosted many top music acts including Tiny Tim.
throughout the years...
In the 38 years that Louis owned Lee’s he never took credit cards. Up until he sold the bar in 2015 Lee’s still used antique chrome cash registers.
Louis’ worst memory at Lee’s was in the 1970s, the bar was being robbed and a regular patron named “Sleets” was carrying a pistol, he pulled it out and shot the robbers. The police came charging in and not knowing Sleets was a good guy, blew him away with a shotgun. Incidentally, Lee’s has never been robbed since 2000.
Louis and Carmen had three children. His son is a police officer in St. Paul. And one of his daughters still works at Lee’s. In 2007 his other daughter lost her battle to cancer. Carmen had gone to care for her in Michigan and was so rattled she had a heart attack and passed a week later. It was a tough year for the Sirian family.
As of 2015, Louis Sirian was a healthy, efficient 79 years young. At the time he sold the business he couldn’t afford a daytime person and he did all of the cleaning. To walk with Louis is to hustle. The guy operates in the fast lane. He often says, “Make every move count,” and he does.
In April 2015 Lee’s Liquor Lounge entered a new chapter in its history. Craig Kruckeberg purchased the property and entertainment venue. Craig moved to Minneapolis from rural Blooming Prairie, Minnesota in 2009. Lee’s reminded him of his local municipal bar in Blooming Prairie. He loved the atmosphere. After seeing what happened to Nye’s Polynaise Room, Craig was determined not to let the same fate befall the iconic Lee’s Liquor Lounge. Knowing that Louis wanted out, he bought it. Craig didn’t even haggle over price.
Other than taking credit cards Craig wants to keep Lee’s the same. He and his wife Robyn want to continue the casual tradition of good dancing, great music and cold beer. They welcome the “trade.”