Phalen Park Liquor (St. Paul, MN) – This liquor store is connected to a place called Yannarelly’s Bar, which has a long history in the Twin Cities. The bar first opened in the early 1900s as Swanson’s Bar, named after original owner Hank Swanson, and later inherited by his sons Roger and Wally. The two Swanson boys ran the place until 1962, when they sold to Dick Yannarelly.
Fast forwarding to the 21st century, this favorite neighborhood haunt maintains the distinction of “Best Old-Guy Bar” according to the city papers. As you might expect, this place has a “simple charm to it – a pool table, the original bar with wooden coolers, bags of salty snacks hanging from metal racks, and the beer (Bud, Grain Belt, PBR in a 16-ounce can) is cheap and cold”. But what makes this place extra special is the early crowd. Before 9 pm the stools are filled with guys who have great stories to tell about the neighborhood back in the day, when it was full of department stores, movie theaters, bakeries, and butcher shops”. They sound like exactly the kind of guys that I need to get to know.
Mr. Yannarelly passed away peacefully in 2015 at the age of 90. According to his obituary, he was a World War II Navy Veteran (USS Matagorda) and worked for the City of Saint Paul as the first parking meter supervisor for 40 years.
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