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St. Louis Park's Gathering Spot

The Park Tavern has been a community fixture for more than 50 years.

One way or the other, you’ve probably ended up at the at least once over the years.

Maybe you hosted your kid’s birthday party there. Or caught a Twins game—or Twins players chatting with fans—there. Maybe you’re like this writer and have the bowling Groupon, which gets me to the lanes a lot.

Whatever the reason, St. Louis Park residents have been heading to the Park Tavern regularly since it opened in 1959.

The original Park Tavern was located at the corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and Louisiana Avenue—about four blocks north of the current location. According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, this original building possibly dates back as far as 1906, and it could have served as a grocery store in its early years.

By 1941, Esther’s Tavern was up and running at this location. A few years later, it changed hands and was dubbed the Corner Tavern. In the late 1950s, Ben Weber purchased the building, and the Park Tavern as we know it—sort of—was born.

Weber enjoyed a good, 20-year run on the corner of Minnetonka and Louisiana, but in 1979, the city decided to widen Louisiana and the Park Tavern had to move. By 1981, the old building was demolished and converted into a municipal parking lot.

Weber found vacant land nearby on Louisiana Avenue, but that land also happened to be part of the old Reilly Tar and Chemical site, which was among the most polluted sites in the country. As Ben Weber’s son, Phil, told St. Louis Park Patch, “When we did finally want to open up here there was a lot of paperwork, or work in general, involved just because of government issues with the property.”

The paperwork was completed and the Park Tavern reopened at 3401 Louisiana Ave.—its current location—in the fall of 1980. With the new, bigger location, the Park Tavern also opened a number of bowling lanes, something the previous tavern didn’t have.

These days, Phil Weber is the Park Tavern’s owner, having taken over from his father when he passed in the 1990s. For more on the Park Tavern and its history, see this from June.

If you have St. Louis Park history you'd like to share—including text, photographs and possibly video—please email local editor Michael Rose at michael.rose@patch.com.

Todd Svanoe September 14, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Good digging, Mike. It's fun to take a step back in time.
strangedub September 18, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Hey, you didn't mention that the Park Tavern is a PACKER bar.... I will have to catch a game there with you one weekend. Nice story.
Emily B September 18, 2011 at 03:04 AM
I (heart) Park Tavern. Always enjoy seeing the lot full, pretty much all times of the day/night every day of the week. :)

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