Daily Lunch Specials Until 4PM!
Re-opened on November 1, 2011 Tim & Kristi Bjerk extend a
Warm Welcome to you, your friends & family!
"Welcome Back to Whitey's!"
Remember: CALL AHEAD SEATING! 773-1831
2013 Summer Menu Items
Citrus BBQ Grilled Chicken
Caprese' Chicken Wrap
Mini Slider Trio
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich
|Edwin "Whitey" Larson
||Whitey's Wonderbar 1930
W H I T E Y ' S
H I S T O R Y
East Grand Forks was a
Saloon town in the early years. It started with lumberjacks from
northern Minnesota who floated their timber down the Red River to lumber
mills at the fork of the two rivers. Also, the farmhands who worked the
broad plains of the Red River Valley came to the fork for fun and
frolic. North Dakota was "dry" back then so the liquor trade developed
on the Minnesota side of the line. East Grand Forks, Moorhead and other
border towns thrived on the lively nightlife. Much to the disgust of the
"proper folks," the liquor trade was the primary industry in our town.
Grand Forks was at the peak of its liquor and gambling trade when a
19-year-old kid named Edwin "Whitey" Larson decided to get in on the
action. In 1925 "Whitey" opened the Coney Island Lunch Room at 108 North
2nd Street, just a half-block off the well-known DeMers Avenue strip.
The Coney Island featured bootleg alcohol and a few slot machines as
well as an occasional Coney Island hot dog. It was tiny in comparison to
the forty nightclubs and restaurants that lined DeMers Avenue and made
East Grand Forks famous throughout the Northwest as "Little Chicago."
several fruitful years as the Coney Island, "Whitey" purchased the
building at 110-112 DeMers Avenue from the Duluth Brewing Company, and
in 1930 built the first stainless steel horseshoe bar in the United
States. The business was appropriately named "Whitey's Wonderbar."
Liquor sales were complimented by the unrestricted presence of slot
machines and dice games. Business prospered, and in 1939 "Whitey's
Wonderbar," designed by local architect Samuel DeRemer, was featured in
the Saturday Evening Post and Time Magazine for its Art Deco design and
style. Today, Whitey's is one of the best examples of this type of
architecture in the country.
1940's brought changes to "Whitey's Wonderbar." In 1942 a fire
heavily damaged the building. It was reopened with a new front facade
and renamed Whitey's Cafe and Lounge. Now the emphasis was on food since
illicit gaming was coming under increased scrutiny by a more law abiding
citizenry. The change proved to be wise as the gambling industry was
finally closed down in 1947, and the number of liquor licenses was
reduced to five. Whitey's is the lone survivor from the days of
one-armed bandits and two-fisted drinking. The energy and enthusiasm
that "Whitey" Larson put into building his "Wonderbar" now was directed
to establishment of the food reputation for which the Cafe and Lounge is
Whitey's, over the
years, became a landmark restaurant in the Greater Grand Forks area. It
expanded to included 3 distinctly different bars in the 1970's and the
nightclub venue became nearly as legendary as the food reputation.
flood of 1997 inundated Whitey's with nearly six feet of water on the
main floor. Whitey's was rebuilt following the flood in a new location
just three doors up the block from the destroyed building. The famed
"Wonderbar" and art deco interior were saved along with most of the
artifacts. Whitey's today features its original decor and atmosphere
complimented by the spacious Boardwalk Bar and outdoor patio facing the
Boardwalk. Whitey's is a piece of East Grand Forks history for future
generations to enjoy.
In the summer of 2011 Tim & Kristi Bjerk purchased
the building and gave it an incredible facelift from top to bottom.
The HORSESHOE BAR is still in place and
inviting guests as it has been since 1925. The back bar has been
moved to the west wall of the dining room and stands guard over newly
appointed booths and tables. With warmer weather the patio will be
open for full meals or a quick libation.
121 DeMers Avenue East Grand Forks, MN
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