At one time Louie owned two bars on opposite ends of St.Paul, as well as Lee's, and worked full time for the City of St. Paul Water Department. But Lee's was his first personal adventure and now it's his only one.
"It isn't Louis Sirian that makes Lee's Bar," he says. "It's a young bunch of boys with different types of bands. They really make Lee's Bar. I'm just the owner."
But Sirian bought Lee's long before those boys were old enough to enter it. Back in 1977, Sirian was working full-time for the city. He'd started there when he was 15 and in high school, working part-time making brooms until he turned 19 and went full-time. One day, he ran into Reggie Coulahan, then owner of the Uptown Bar and Skyway Lounge.
"We got to talking, and Reggie mentioned he sold business opportunities. I said I was looking for something for my older brother and I, and Reggie said there was a saloon that Lee Tremer owned. Lee had died, and Reggie was handling the account. I told him I'd never really thought about the liquor business, but it's something to look into."
Louie took the gamble. He bought the place, brought in a bunch of pool tables and called it Lee's Pool and Liquor. Bartender Donna Godeski and Sirian's brother, Tom, took care of the place while Sirian worked at the city by day. Sirian took care of things at night.
The area industry that existed when Sirian bought Lee's back in 1977 slowly disappeared. Factories closed or shut down. Companies like Munsingwear, Kemps and Boyer Ford all left the area.
Eventually, the city municipalities that now surround Lee's sprung up. The bar changed, too. Louie tore down walls and expanded the bar. He brought in some entertainment, got rid of some pool tables, and shaped the bar to fit his changing clientele.
"At night, boys come to meet girls and girls come to meet boys. Married couples come in, too," says Sirian. "They're all dressed up. They have a drink, and they even thank you. They're so well-behaved and polite in this bar that it's a pleasure to own."
Sirian keeps an eye on things at night. "It's interesting to watch people," he says. "I like to look around. I do notice that people, even though I don't know them, they seem to know me. They say good night. It's a rewarding thing."
(Skyway News story, November 17, 1998 by Berit Thorkelson)