If you attended the University of Minnesota back in the 1980s , 1990s or early 2000s– or if you just spent some counter-culture time on the campus’ West Bank — there’s a good chance you found your way to Grandma’s Saloon & Grill on Washington Avenue at some point.
It opened in 1981 and was Duluth-based Grandma’s Restaurants’ second restaurant.
“When we opened, it was going great guns,” Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma’s Restaurants, said of the three-story restaurant that had a pool hall on the top floor. Indeed, this reporter can attest to long waits to get a table in those days.
Grandma’s had set out to renovate the old building on the site but ended up keeping just two vintage walls and rebuilding the rest at a cost of $3.5 million, more than a million more than originally anticipated.
“We were trying to preserve the original appeal,” Daugherty explained.
But times changed, and the area changed. The ground level pub and dance floor drew fewer people over time. And eventually the second floor dining room couldn’t make up the difference .
“The (35W) bridge collapse was really the nail in the coffin,” Daugherty said.
So the restaurant closed in 2008. And the building was torn down a year ago. Now plans are in the works to build a six-story apartment complex on the site. Minneapolis developer Alatus and two partners want to build a complex with 260 apartments, with an exercise room, garden and a study room, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports.
That plan has been considerably downsized from the developer’s initial proposal to build a 25-story building with 369 apartments on the site. The shorter building’s design still gives them two-thirds the number of units as the tall design and is much less expensive, the Journal says.