Goodbye, Sunrise Inn: Retiring the Second-to-Last 3.2 Bar in Minneapolis

Stubble: Tell me about the situation – why is the Sunrise Inn closing?
Steve [pictured above]: Well, we’re old. Frank and I are in our 70’s and that’s about time for retirement. We’ve been here for 39 years, or at least he has. Frank has been here everyday for the last 39 years.
Frank: I had a knee replaced, so someone backed me up, but yeah that’s pretty much right. This bar is like the 50’s – I think you’re a little young – but there’s nothing fancy here. In the early 50’s there’d be a spitoon on the end and in the middle there. It’s old fashioned, like us!
Steve: I’ve been here for 35. [Getting old] is about the main reason. Otherwise, we’d stay on if we were younger.

Stubble: How has the Sunrise changed over the years since you started?
Steve: It hasn’t. Nothing at all has changed. The city asked me if I wanted to get stronger beer, I said ‘no, they get just as goofy on 3.2 beer as they do on strong stuff’ so no thanks. I have the same crowd all the time and we’re good to these people, but sometimes they get a little funny.

Stubble: What’s the deal with the 3.2 – I hear you’re one of the last establishments to have a low-alcohol license.
Steve: We’re one of only two 3.2 bars remaining. I think when the new people come in they’re going to be doing strong beer and wine. I don’t see any difference in the beer, 3.2 or the strong stuff really like I was saying.

Stubble: So what’s going to happen to the Sunrise?
Steve: We got someone to buy it and they’re going to keep it as a bar. I think they’re going to try to keep it pretty consistent, all this woodwork in the back here I think they’ll just refinish it.

Stubble: What are some memories here, what makes this place distinct?
Steve: I’ve been here, I know everybody. I’m kind of the big cheese around here. I usually have law and order, so nobody comes in here and messes around because they know me. I’m the big mean indian, ha ha!

Stubble: What are you going to do now that you’re retiring?
Steve: I’m going to travel. I may even go to Hawaii. I’ve been there a couple of times and I love it. I was talking to a friend of mine who lives there, and they say it’s changed. They’ve got a million people over there. Traveling is about it. Frank and I have property in Montana so we’ll check that out too and just take it easy.

Stubble: How do you want people to remember the Sunrise?
Steve: A lot of people are really sad to see it going becuase it’s going to be the last dive bar in town.

Stubble: There’s really no other place left around here to take the crown?
Steve: Yeah, I think we are one of the last ones at least. There’s not too many places like it. This is kind of a thing like Cheers, you’ve got the same people over and over. But I don’t think I’m going to miss it too much – we work too hard and we try to please everybody, but you can never do it. You got a few angry ones, but I don’t have a rough crowd.

Stubble: Someone told me there used to be a hole in the floor where you’d throw empty bottles into the basement.
Stubble: Absolutely – here it is. We used to have a tube even that went down into a big ol’ barrel in the basement where we’d recycle it. Not bottles, only cans though. Have you been to our bathroom in the basement yet? It’s a dungeon. It’s a nasty place, ha ha!

Steve and Frank bought the Sunrise Inn on 46th Street in 1979. Their last day of business as of last Friday was said to be Wednesday 3/29 or “probably just whenever the kegs run out.”

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