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

But another restaurant is taking its place.

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

Kirk Cousins

Report: Kellen Mond has COVID, Cousins among players out of practice

The team is scheduled to practice on Saturday night.

USPS packages

Two Ramsey County men sentenced in mail theft scheme

Sonny Vang Xiong was sentenced to three years in prison, while Davis Her was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Jeff Gladney

Jeff Gladney's ex-girlfriend files $1 million civil lawsuit

The civil lawsuit accuses Gladney of assaulting the woman for over two hours.

vaccine, covid

St. Paul care home group will mandate COVID vaccines for staff

It comes amid reports of COVID outbreaks at homes where residents are all vaccinated, but staff are not.

Jail handcuffs arrest

Starbuck man charged with uploading, sharing child pornography

The 47-year-old was arrested after a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.


Boy, 11, seriously injured after 'fall' that police now suspect was abuse

It was initially reported that the boy slipped and fell.

police lights

Investigation underway after body found during welfare check in Plato

The identity of the deceased has not yet been revealed.

Mayor Brad Wiersum

'Please, please, please get vaccinated,' Minnetonka mayor pleads

This comes as the local state of emergency officially ends.

YouTube - Jeopardy screengrab minneapolis

Can you answer all the Minneapolis questions from this week's 'Jeopardy?'

KARE personalities including Randy Shaver and Rena Sarigianopoulos presented the clues.

Pexels - woman shop mask covid CROP

35 counties, including most of Twin Cities, now COVID hotspots

The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public, indoor places in these counties.

covid, coronavirus

CDC document: Delta variant as contagious as chickenpox

Vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness from the delta variant, however.


boardwalk bar and grill - east grand forks

East Grand Forks bar plans to reopen Wednesday despite governor's order

The owner is reopening for dine-in customers, which defies Gov. Tim Walz's executive order.

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.

hazelewood burgers

3 Minnesota restaurants make it on 50 best burgers in America list

A travel website praised the restaurants' burgers in a recently released list.

christos minnetonka

Christos Greek Restaurant in Minnetonka to become new Craft and Crew spot

The Minneapolis Christos Greek Restaurant location will remain open.