Whitey's   est. 1925            Reborn 11/1/11

121 Demers Avenue
T H E   B O A R D W A L K
East Grand Forks Minnesota

(as of 2/18/2013)
Specials posted on Facebook
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Daily Lunch Specials Until 4PM!

Re-opened on November 1, 2011 Tim & Kristi Bjerk extend a Warm Welcome to you, your friends & family!   "Welcome Back to Whitey's!"

Remember:  CALL AHEAD SEATING!    773-1831 

2013  Summer Menu Items

Crab Dip
Citrus BBQ Grilled Chicken
Caprese' Chicken Wrap
Fruit Plate
Mini Slider Trio
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich

Edwin "Whitey" Larson Whitey's Wonderbar 1930 Whitey's Today

W H I T E Y ' S    H I S T O R Y

East Grand Forks was a Saloon town in the early years. It started with lumberjacks from northern Minnesota who floated their timber down the Red River to lumber mills at the fork of the two rivers. Also, the farmhands who worked the broad plains of the Red River Valley came to the fork for fun and frolic. North Dakota was "dry" back then so the liquor trade developed on the Minnesota side of the line. East Grand Forks, Moorhead and other border towns thrived on the lively nightlife. Much to the disgust of the "proper folks," the liquor trade was the primary industry in our town.

East Grand Forks was at the peak of its liquor and gambling trade when a 19-year-old kid named Edwin "Whitey" Larson decided to get in on the action. In 1925 "Whitey" opened the Coney Island Lunch Room at 108 North 2nd Street, just a half-block off the well-known DeMers Avenue strip. The Coney Island featured bootleg alcohol and a few slot machines as well as an occasional Coney Island hot dog. It was tiny in comparison to the forty nightclubs and restaurants that lined DeMers Avenue and made East Grand Forks famous throughout the Northwest as "Little Chicago."

After several fruitful years as the Coney Island, "Whitey" purchased the building at 110-112 DeMers Avenue from the Duluth Brewing Company, and in 1930 built the first stainless steel horseshoe bar in the United States. The business was appropriately named "Whitey's Wonderbar."  Liquor sales were complimented by the unrestricted presence of slot machines and dice games.  Business prospered, and in 1939 "Whitey's Wonderbar," designed by local architect Samuel DeRemer, was featured in the Saturday Evening Post and Time Magazine for its Art Deco design and style. Today, Whitey's is one of the best examples of this type of architecture in the country.

The 1940's brought changes to "Whitey's Wonderbar."  In 1942 a fire heavily damaged the building. It was reopened with a new front facade and renamed Whitey's Cafe and Lounge. Now the emphasis was on food since illicit gaming was coming under increased scrutiny by a more law abiding citizenry. The change proved to be wise as the gambling industry was finally closed down in 1947, and the number of liquor licenses was reduced to five. Whitey's is the lone survivor from the days of one-armed bandits and two-fisted drinking. The energy and enthusiasm that "Whitey" Larson put into building his "Wonderbar" now was directed to establishment of the food reputation for which the Cafe and Lounge is now famous.

Whitey's, over the years, became a landmark restaurant in the Greater Grand Forks area. It expanded to included 3 distinctly different bars in the 1970's and the nightclub venue became nearly as legendary as the food reputation.

The flood of 1997 inundated Whitey's with nearly six feet of water on the main floor. Whitey's was rebuilt following the flood in a new location just three doors up the block from the destroyed building. The famed "Wonderbar" and art deco interior were saved along with most of the artifacts. Whitey's today features its original decor and atmosphere complimented by the spacious Boardwalk Bar and outdoor patio facing the Boardwalk. Whitey's is a piece of East Grand Forks history for future generations to enjoy.

In the summer of 2011 Tim & Kristi Bjerk purchased the building and gave it an incredible facelift from top to bottom.  The HORSESHOE BAR is still in place and inviting guests as it has been since 1925.  The back bar has been moved to the west wall of the dining room and stands guard over newly appointed booths and tables.  With warmer weather the patio will be open for full meals or a quick libation.

121 DeMers Avenue  East Grand Forks, MN  218.773.1831 info@WhiteysEGF.com


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