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St. Paul nightclub – the first in MN owned by an African-American woman – is closing

The owner was the first African American woman to get a liquor license in Minnesota.

A St. Paul nightclub that hosted Prince is closing at the end of the month.

Arnellia's, located on University Avenue, is shutting down after 25 years because the owner, Arnellia Allen, is having "major health issues," a Facebook post from Allen's attorney says.

Allen was the first African-American woman to get a liquor license, as well as the first to own a nightclub in the state of Minnesota. For many years, Arnellia's was the only African-American-owned live music venue in the state, the post says. And MinnPost reported in 2008, Arnellia's was the oldest African-American owned establishment in St. Paul.

Arnellia's hosted some big names over the years, including Prince, Zapp, Alexander O'Neal, Bobby Blue Bland and Sounds of Blackness.

The venue also had plenty of run-ins with police. The Pioneer Press says its liquor license was suspended for 10 days earlier this year after a face-smacking contest turned violent in the parking lot. There were also a handful of fatal shootings outside the nightclub over the years.

In an interview with Vit.MN back in 2012, Allen said the troubles with the bar had worn on her, saying "I can't say it's been very rewarding" running the bar.

4-day celebration planned

To celebrate the end of an era, Arneillia's will be hosting a four-day celebration from April 27-30, with the establishment closing officially at midnight May 1.

Organizers for the event are looking for bands, spoken word artists and DJs who are interested in performing. They're also looking for volunteers, sponsors and face painters.

If you're interested in helping out, contact De’Monica Flye at 651-206- 7147 or Kendra Glenn at 612- 998-2246.

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