Historic Whitey's restaurant in East Grand Forks will close to become a burger joint

But another restaurant is taking its place.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Pour one out for Whitey's in East Grand Forks. 

The bar and restaurant that thrived during Prohibition is closing, and will be turned into a Sickies Garage – a North Dakota-based burger and beer chain. 

Sickies Garage made the announcement on Facebook this week, saying it is relocating its Grand Forks, North Dakota, location to East Grand Forks, Minnesota. 

The restaurant group will renovate Whitey's, but says it'll incorporate the historical, art-deco architecture of the space, noting it'll "merge design elements seamlessly" into the Sickies "retro garage-themed appearance." 

Scott Upton of Starmark Hospitality (it owns Sickies) told the Grand Forks Herald they're also looking at options to keep Whitey's in the basement of the building and are trying to incorporate the Whitey's name into the concept, but "how we do that, we haven't decided yet." 

Whitey's will close on Friday, the Grand Forks Herald reports, and will reopen in November as Sickies, the restaurant says. The Grand Forks Sickies location will stay open until renovations at Whitey's are finished. 

More about Whitey's

Whitey's website says it's East Grand Fork's "lone survivor from the days of the one-armed bandits and two-fisted drinking." 

And that's quite a claim, because in the early 1900s East Grand Forks was known as a "saloon town" with a lot of lawlessness and a vibrant liquor trade. 

That's where 19-year-old Edwin "Whitey" Larson comes in. He wanted in on the action, so in 1925 (during Prohibition), he opened the Coney Island Lunch Room. The joint – located about a block from the current Whitey's – featured bootleg booze, slot machines and Coney hotdogs. 

After a few successful years, Whitey bought the building on DeMers Avenue (Whitey's current location), and built the first stainless steel horseshoe bar in the U.S. in 1930. 

The bar was called Whitey's Wonderbar, where people could play slot machines and dice games. And it became known for its art-deco style, with Whitey's website saying it's one of the best examples of this type of architecture in the country. 

Over the years, Whitey's shifted it's focus from illegal gaming (officials were cracking down on it) to food – which has helped make the location famous – and changed its name to Whitey's Cafe and Lounge.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

flickr-mall-of-america-mitchell-hirsch-march-2019

When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.

Minnesota_Welcome_Sign_-_Minnesota_Welcomes_You_-_Taylors_Falls_(28269804891)

Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.

Texa-Tonka

Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

vote, election

Minnesota once again had the highest election turnout in the country

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a record percentage of voters also sent in absentee ballots.

Related

Lotus is closing its Uptown restaurant

Yet another restaurant that couldn't make it work in that location.

Wood-fired pizza joint closes for good at 50th and France

Despite its prominent location, the restaurant was losing money.

Wood-fired pizza joint closes for good at 50th and France

Despite its prominent location, the restaurant was losing money.

billy's on grand

Coronavirus: Billy's on Grand will close for winter

The restaurant is among a growing list of eateries to close for the winter months.

This Minneapolis restaurant made the list of top North American 'discoveries'

It came in at No. 3 for restaurants in the Midwest and Canada.

B-Dubs is closing its 2 fast-casual pizza joints in the Twin Cities

B-Dubs opened the two restaurants in 2014 with plans to open more, but its experiment has failed.

B-Dubs is closing its 2 fast-casual pizza joints in the Twin Cities

B-Dubs opened the two restaurants in 2014 with plans to open more, but its experiment has failed.