Lee's Liquor Lounge up for sale... to the right buyer

Sit a spell and imagine some of the Twin Cities' now-defunct music hotspots, from mid-century staples like University Avenue's Prom Ballroom and Nicollet's Marigold and Flame, to Mr. Nibbs, Duffy's and Norma Jean's in South Minneapolis' "Hub of Hell." It's hard not to feel nostalgic for what could have been had these venues kept their doors open, their interiors relatively untouched. The well-worn dance floors. The wood paneling and rough carpeting. The cheap drinks, and cheap drunks.

A night spent in Lee's Liquor Lounge can help assuage this wistfulness, this desire to climb into Mr. Peabody's WABAC Machine and go back to a time and place where folks got gussied up and went out for a night on the town, looking to dance. Like, dance with each other. Fox trot. Two-step. Lee's, which opened in 1957, still has the look of an old mid-century watering hole. And folks still go there every week to dance. At least, they can for now.

Following a well-publicized run-in with Minneapolis fire inspectors, who evicted the ten men living in apartments above the bar, the Star Tribune is now reporting that Lee's longtime owner Louie Sirian is "sort of" looking to sell the place.

Since purchasing Lee's in the late 1970s, Sirian has torn down walls and expanded the bar, and has also consistently offered an entertainment lineup comprised of some of the finest local and national country and rockabilly acts to be found around these parts.

At 75, it seems Sirian is looking to retire, but as he told the Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider, he's holding out until the offer's just right. "If someone made me an offer that I felt was worth it, I would take it, but I suspect I'll probably still be here this time next year."

Here's hoping Sirian does hold out for the right candidate; a gem like Lee's holds a lot of promise. Imagine what could happen to this place with just a little clever marketing, packing country nights with even more (and maybe even younger) two-steppers.

But on the other hand, imagine what might happen should Lee's go the way of the Flame or Duffy's. Think: additional parking for Twins fans.

We're counting on you, Louie.

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