Original owner of Matt's Bar dies hours before Obama's visit

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Matt Bristol, the man who started Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, died Thursday morning at the age of 89 – just a few hours before President Barack Obama visited the well-known restaurant Thursday, reports say.

Family members told WCCO Bristol, the bar's original owner and founder, didn't know Obama would be coming to the restaurant for lunch.

The legacy of Matt's Bar

Bristol opened the neighborhood eatery in 1954, and claims to have invented the now-iconic, destination Minnesota burger known as the Jucy Lucy.

Although other local restaurants have similar cheese-stuffed burgers on their menus, Bristol had long told the story of how his bar was the first, and all others are just mere imitations. The story, according to the Matt's Bar's website, goes like this: A customer came into the restaurant and asked for two hamburger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle, and upon biting into the burger the customer exclaimed, "That's one juicy Lucy!"

The burger quickly became popular. So popular, actually, that the restaurant forgot to put the "I" in juicy on their menu, so the burger has since been called the Jucy Lucy.

Since it was founded, Matt's Bar has received numerous awards, topped multiple best-of lists from around the country, saw its signature Jucy Lucy named one of Time Magazine's most influential burgers, and was even featured on the Travel Channel, according to current owners Scott and Cathy Nelson.


It was the first time a president visited Matt's Bar, according to a post on the restaurant's Facebook page.

Obama greeted customers at the establishment, then sat down for lunch with Rebekah Erler, a Twin Cities mother whose letter inspired him to start “day-in-the-life” visits around the country in an effort to help bolster the middle class.

With a warning from the waitress on how to eat the burger without burning himself, the president chowed down on the Jucy Lucy and complimented the current owners for making a "great burger," Scott Nelson told the Pioneer Press.

"The waitress was pretty clear with him about how to eat it without burning himself," Nelson said.

Obama, his press secretary and some of the national reporters on the scene were just the latest to enjoy the Jucy Lucy – a foreign concept to many nationwide.

This had media outlets tweeting out explainers and writing stories describing what the Jucy Lucy is like, furthering Matt's Bar's reputation for the unique burger and cementing Bristol's Minneapolis establishment as one of the most famous food spots in the country.

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