Smoky Point Bar-B-Q
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7800 Cedar Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota, ROckwell 9-9913
"Over 20 year's experience in Barbecuing" (ca. 1935)

On many occasions, I remember eating at Smoky Point as a child. 
They had a huge stone fireplace as I recall, and the shingles on the roof were royal blue and white. 
The establishment was located on the southwest corner of 78th Street and Cedar Avenue, in Bloomington.  Today, this would be I-494 and Cedar Avenue.

Jon Mathisrud '63 told me that Smoky Point had three cookers outside the building for cooking the wonderful barbecued ribs.

My dad, a self-employed electrical repairman sold, installed and maintained various novelty and amusement machines for restaurants, bars, resorts, the Minnesota State Fair, etc.  He may have also worked at Smoky Point, specifically with the tableside juke boxes or the music system they had in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Colin Quinn tells me that Smoky Point occupied the property on the southwest corner mentioned above, then GEM occupied it, and next, the Decathlon Club.  Apparently there was a fire at the Decathlon and it was torn down and
replaced by the Water Park that exists today.

The owner, Aleck "Smoky" Ellis immigrated to Minnesota from Greece in 1915.  Mr. Ellis helped bring Met Stadium to Bloomington. 
"It was his idea to put Met Stadium across the street from the restaurant", according to his daughter.  This particular Smoky Point was his second restaurant by the same name.  I don't know where the first was located, but
I would be interested in knowing that (see below). 

"In 1962, a year before Ellis' death, he sold his property to the Decathlon Hotel and Athletic Club.  The Radisson Hotel and Water Park occupies the site today", as stated in a Bloomington newsletter.

~ Excerpts from a Bloomington newsletter and daughter, Pat Lambros about 4/17/09 ~

Today, I received a note from Rose Henzler:  "I was so surprised to find this on Smoky Point while searching for the Sun Drive In, my high school haunt (Kind of been dreaming about that special sauce . . . yum!). 
I was Aleck’s daughter-in-law, married to his son, George . . . 1963 to 1967.  The original Smoky Point was in northeast Minneapolis, not sure exactly where, but I believe it was on Hennepin.  Aleck lived in the red flats in northeast. 
My oldest son is named after him. 

George and I ran the Smoky Point Café on Cedar Avenue by the GEM store and across the way from the old Met.  The fence that was installed for traffic/safety purposes more or less killed the business.  Just to be clear,
the Smoky Point that George and I ran was a small 'hamburger joint' that the Ellis’ opened after the big restaurant was demolished for the highway.  Then years later it, too, fell to progress. 
You might find it interesting that the original jo-jo potatoes were the brain child of Aleck.  He saw how to save time and money by cleaning the potatoes and frying them with the skin on rather than peeling them.
Thanks for the memories."  Rose Henzler, St. Anthony de Padua, 8/31/14

Advertisement in, The Bloomington News, for Legion Field rodeo
July 5, 1956

Advertisement - Take a Look!


1.  "They tore it down for the Cedar/494 interchange.  The roof with the iconic Smoky Point painted on top sat for quite a while in the junk yard where the Mann France Avenue
      Drive in was later built.  They built a smaller Smoky's with a neon sign on about 81st and Cedar.  It didn't stay open very long."

2.  "Smoky Point!  We could smell those ribs smoking in that huge outdoor oven from our front yard when I was kid."

3.  "Smoky Point is right.  We in the neighborhood just called it Smokies.  Owner lived on the corner of 86th & Cedar."

4.  "Smoky Point Restaurant was located on the southwest quadrant of the Hwy 100 (now 494)/Cedar Ave. intersection and sat at an angle.  The site next became home to the
      Decathlon Club but is now occupied by the Water Park of America and Hotel.

5.  "Grew up four blocks from there.  It was across Cedar about in line with IKEA -+.  Best hot dogs ever.. Once the area changed and Jimmy moved on it, Smoky Point was
      burned down by the Bloomington Fire Department, for practice. Watched that and it broke my heart : (."


Sun Drive Inn
Northeast Minneapolis

~ It would be great to have more photos of the Sun Drive-Inn to jog our memory. ~

28th & Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Est.1954 by Warren Nelson

This picture was submitted by Gary Jevnager,  5/22/15

"You have a great collection of drive inns on your website! 
I went to Columbia Heights High School in the 60's, and our hangout was the Sun Drive Inn on Central Avenue.  It had a big parking lot with colored globe lights and lots of atmosphere. 
Your order was delivered to the car in a cardboard tray printed with the Sun logo.  The Sun Burger was delicious, and so big and juicy it came wrapped in foil. 
I'm told that Sun Burgers are still served at Shaw's Bar and Grill in Northeast Minneapolis."
 ~ Alexis J. McCarthy, CHHS '60s ~

~ "Here's a scan of a Sun Drive Inn box that I saved about 45 years ago!" ~

Alexis J. McCarthy, CHHS '60s, 

Although this wasn't necessarily one of our Roosevelt haunts, we may have found ourselves wandering to the Northeast for a burger!
Warren W. "Bill" Nelson
(RHS June, '46), partnered with Ray Truelson (RHS June '46) in a drive-in restaurant called the Flat Top Drive-Inn in the late 1940s.   After his first success, Warren later opened the Sun Drive-Inn on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.  It became the place to go in Northeast Minneapolis where the Sun Burger was popular with the crowds. 
Few will remember the early days when Warren would hire country western singers to sit on the back fence and play on sunny Sunday afternoons.  Many, though, will remember the Sun in the 1960s with the lines of cars snaking through the lot and the drone of the many V8s on Saturday nights. 
People also came to see the billboard featuring original art work by local artists that reflected the turbulent times.
  It has been many years since the Sun has been in operation.


It is difficult to read the top portion of this menu, but the items in the gold area are as follows:


Taylor's Pharmacy

 ~ Jack Anderson, RHS '64 ~

4000 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
PA 2-1516

Taylor's Pharmacy was located on the southwest corner of 40th and Minnehaha Avenue.

They had the traditional soda fountain where I bought ice cream.


Tom Tom Drive-In
Richfield, 1956

6244 Cedar Avenue, Richfield, Minnesota

Note the sign for "Pizza Pie".  It would be fun to be able to read the menu prices on the structure at the right, wouldn't it?
I believe Qwest Communications is located on or near this property today.

"I worked at the Tom Tom Drive-In at the corner of Hiawatha and Minnehaha Avenues South at 53rd Street.  They had car hops.  It was owned by Herb DeRoma, and in 1960 he started the first broasted chicken eat-in and home delivery just off 66th and Lyndale Avenue South.  I moved with him to this establishment called the Chicken Farm, located next to Peck Brothers Sporting Goods.  I worked for DeRoma in 1959 and 1960."
 ~ F. David Shrewsbury, RHS, '61 ~



East Lake Street & 27th Avenue South

Totino's was an Italian restaurant that served great pizza. 
If my memory serves me well, it was located on the southeast corner of 27th & Lake, but I am not sure which direction the establishment faced, possibly west.  It could have been a second floor location, since I recall climbing interior stairs to reach the seating area, and that the staircase was painted a very dark green color.  Online sources tell us:  "In 1951, James and Rose Totino were married and opened a small shop to sell homemade pizzas to takeout customers.  This operation grew to become a restaurant".  Their business branched out to other locations.  I doubt it was in business very long at the
South Minneapolis location, but it left an impression with me!  Does anyone remember more about Totino's?

Rose Totino


All Locations Gone

Rose Totino


Vic's Drive-In
~ Vic's Drive-In was located at about 58th Street and 34th Avenue South, on the southwest corner right across from the Airloha Drive-In ~

"When the line was too long at the Airloha, we used to go to Vic's for cheeseburgers."
~ Joyce (Wiklund) Cook, RHS '57 ~

Menu Favorites
Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches


"The drive-in across the street from the Airloha was owned by Delbert and Donald Cummings, and I was one of their first employees. 
It was not an A & W root beer stand.  The root beer was purchased from the Rich-O root beer stand which was located near Minnehaha Falls on 46th Street and 42nd Avenue south [Pat, might that be 46th Ave. S?]
I think I was in ninth grade when I went to work for them.  I worked there all summer long.  Del and Don were dairy farmers on their property which was subsequently sold to the airport or the city when the
Crosstown highway was constructed.  The Cummings did not construct that building but rather moved it from another location.

The second owners were Vic and Marie Chase.  Vic owned the Mobil gas station located at 54th and 34th Avenue South.  I worked for them about two or three summers as one of their fry cooks, where I learned a lot from Marie's mother.  Her name was Gertrude and she was a bear to work with.  One of their specialties was the Texburger, which was mustard, ketchup and red pepper.  The redder the pepper the hotter it got!

There was another new drive-in that was built right across the street from the old airport terminal on 34th Avenue South: the Sunset Drive-In or Vic's Drive-In
In fact, the guy who ran that was a guy with the name A__.  That's right only the first letter of the alphabet.  And guess what, my mother worked there part-time in 1957 or 1958!"
~ Patrick A. (Pat) Corcoran, RHS '55 ~

Do you have more information about Vic's.  Do you have a photo?
  Was it an A & W or an independent drive-in?  Where exactly was it located? 
The Airloha Drive-In was on the northwest corner.  My guess is across the street from the Airloha, but I am not sure which corner.  I am thinking it might be the northeast corner.
Was Cummings' farm located on the southwest corner?
Joyce (Wiklund) Cook (RHS '57) says it was on the southwest corner.

White Castle

 1995                             2010
East Lake Street & 36th Avenue South

"I took these pictures of the White Castle, one in 1995 and the other in 2010. 
I think the original building opened sometime before 1964."

~ James D. Goudy, RfldHS '58 ~

~ December 14, 1929 - 616 Washington Ave. S ~  ~ 1950s ~  ~ Moving in Minneapolis - February, 28, 1957 ~

Here are some photos from years ago.  I remember the hamburgers being sold for 12 ¢ in about 1950-51. 
They were individually sold in a white lightweight cardboard containers that advertized the slogan, "DON'T BE A LITTERBUG".


Whitey and Al's Drive-In
4001 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Was this called RING KING DRIVE-IN at any time?

photo and more information needed ~

Whitey and Al's Drive-In, a drive-in totally unfamiliar to me,
was located on the southeast corner across from Taylor's Pharmacy at
4001 Minnehaha Avenue.  Does anyone remember this eatery?  What memories do you have?  Any photos?
I am told it closed about 1964.

Menu Favorites
Coneys & their sauce

French Fries

 "There was no drive-in there to my knowledge.  I moved into that neighborhood in 1956. 
The building on that corner was an ice cream stand for a while, and before that it was vacant.  Some of the older guys tried to rejuvenate the place but it never worked.  It was a trailer rental place for years, then boarded up. 
Savon's was a little grocery store next door, and I worked there for years.  Nate, Tom, and Morrie owned the place; all were brothers. 

Taylor's was on the corner, next to and connected to it was Bridgeman's, then there was the 4004 3.2 bar, next was a variety shop,
then a hardware store, and finally, a vacant store front.  Kurt's Barber Shop was kiddie corner from Taylor's.  Across the street was the Laundry Mate,
Big Chicken, and some other shops."  [Webmaster:  I'm guessing these were on the northwest corner area]  "I hung out on that corner for years, and was part of the group of people called 'Taylors Tuffies'.  At one time, there was a shoemaker shop below Taylor's, then a club house that Angus Taylor let the older guys use for a while.  I believe it was used by the South Side Associates street gang that was big at that time."
~ Ron Hart, RHS '71 ~

"We moved into the neighborhood in 1958.  This drive-in was on it's last legs then, if I remember correctly. 
It stood vacant for years and at one point it was a rental shop.  It was separated from Savon's by the parking lot."

~ Steve Hanson, RHS '69 ~

 "The name of the drive-in on 40th and Minnehaha was called "Whitey and Al's".  Whitey was the man.  Allegra was his wife.  It was there in the late 50s.  Not sure when it closed.  I had a cousin who worked there. 
I lived about a block from the drive-in.  Whitey's mother lived next door to me.  Nice people.  Never heard that it was called Ring King.  I do remember the rental place after Whitey and Al's closed."
~ Howard Remeta, RHS '60 ~

“Great site you have.  So many memories.  I grew up on 39th and Minnehaha.  I remember Whitey and Al's very well with fond memories.

I started kindergarten in 1956 at Longfellow School.  I would come home by school bus at 11:30 each day.  My three older brothers were in school all day and my Mother was divorced and had to work all day.  My Mom would leave me a couple of dollars at home and tell me to walk up to Whitey and Al's for lunch.  My Mom knew Whitey and Al and they would be expecting me each school day.  Can't remember what it cost but I would get a burger and fries and coke and sit on the stool outside the counter for lunch.  Al would always watch to make sure I got home after lunch.

It was a true Drive-In.  No car hops that I remember.  You just pulled in, got OUT to order your food, and sat in the car to eat.  I just remember Whitey and Al being great folks.  It must have closed down around '57 or '58 and sat empty for a long time.

I remember Kurt the barber was the first one to give me a haircut.  He worked in a barbershop across the street next to the 4004 beer joint.  There was also a small meat market there and the hardware store.  
Kurt moved across the street to the northeast corner around 1960 or so.

I spent most of my teens at Taylor Drugstore until I went into the Army in 1968.  They called us 'Taylor’s Tuffies' but we were just a bunch of 15, 16, 17 year olds with no where to go.  Had some real good times on that corner.  
Friends like Chuck and Ron Hart, Jim and Don Dahl, Mike Cosgrove, Al Sandeen, Chuck Shied, Jim Hullet, Chuck Gardner, Billy Wedan.  Good Times!”

~ MORE ~
"Kurt's old shop was to the south of the 4004.  The 4004 beer joint bought this barbershop to expand in the late 50s.  Kurt stated working there when he got back from the Korean War.  He limped from a wound he got in Korea.  I don't recall the guy who owned the shop, but it had two chairs and he gave Kurt one.  The guy committed suicide in the late 50s, so when the 4004 bought the place, Kurt moved kiddie corner (southeast corner).

The butcher shop was where Bridgeman's went.  Angus Taylor who owned Taylor's Pharmacy had a soda fountain in the back of the drug store.  When the butcher shop closed he bought it and closed his fountain and opened the Bridgeman's. 
There was an accordion-door between the drug store and Bridgeman's.  I worked there behind the counter in '67 until I went into the Army in '68.

The vacant store front, the hardware, and the variety shop were next to the 4004 beer joint (on the southwest quadrant).  It was called Falls Hardware and finely closed in the late '80s.

The Laundromate (or Laundry Mate) was always on the northwest corner of 40th and Minnehaha.

Next to that was the Big Chicken which was a bakery before Big Chicken bought it.  My older brother worked there.

Next to Big Chicken was a large building, now a office building.  In the mid '50s it was a sporting goods store.  Got my first bow and arrows there.

I lived at 3936 Minnehaha and my mom had a choice to send me to Hiawatha, Longfellow or Folwell on 36th Street.  The bus was only for Longfellow so it worked the best for her.  I also went to Sanford for Junior High School.  The school bus would pick me up at the corner of 39th and Minnehaha and also drop me off there.  We lived right next to Telke Sign Company.  Mr. and Mrs. Telke were also friends of my mom.  I think Mrs. Telke was a substitute teacher at RHS.

I don't remember a Ring King Drive-In.

A few years ago, I drove over to 40th and Minnehaha just to walk around.  A lot of memories.  If you go behind what used to be Taylor's Drug, between the house and the drugstore building, you will still see my name carved into the bricks on the wall along with all of the others who used to hang out there.

I now live in West St. Paul but still consider myself a South Minneapolis boy."

~ Tim Scully, RHS '69 ~

~ Below is a drawing of East 40th & Minnehaha Avenue ~
in the 50s - 60s

vacant store front Falls Hardware variety store Kurt's old barber shop 4004 beer joint butcher shop Bridgeman's Taylor Drug E. 40th Street Laundry Mate bakery             Big Chicken sporting goods    office building other shops
SOUTH         Minnehaha Avenue Minnehaha Avenue   NORTH
        Savon's Grocery parking lot Whitey & Al's Drive-In Kurt's new barber shop      

Zipp's Drug Store
~ 4956 34th Avenue South ~
Harry M. Zipperman, owner, 1905-1993
Zipp's Pharmacy is no longer in business, but I know many of you worked there and probably have some interesting stories to tell. 
I received these photos from Glenda (Bennett) Ballis, a Roosevelt graduate from the class of '53.  She was employed at Zipp's during her high school days.  "I lived on 50th Street and 36th Avenue South, and worked at Zipp's Drugstore on 34th and 50th all through high school.  My school friends all hung out there, even the popular ones.  I made malts and 'cherry' cokes.  It was fun.  Good Days! 
It was a fun place to work, got all the ice cream I could eat."

A few years ago, I heard that the Roosevelt classes prior to 1955, during the William von Levern administration (second principal),
had no social activities such as dances, proms, and maybe lacked some Homecoming events as we knew them in '62.  Mr. von Levern was a prison warden before coming to Roosevelt.  I asked Glenda about this and I am pleased to learn the following:  "We did have a prom dance.  I still have the 'lame' pictures of me and my date.  We also had Homecoming, as the queen was a friend of mine." 

Here is some trivia that Glenda added:  "My mom always sewed my clothes and I always had ribbons to match.  We had the 'white buc' shoes, which were really classy.  If I walked to Roosevelt, on occasion, we followed 34th Avenue to 38th Street.  We didn't have school buses, as you know. 
My friends and I always went down to Lake Nokomis every summer.  That was our other hangout place.  Summers were just great."

Glenda (Bennett) Ballis RHS '53, on left, age 17, 1952

Glenda, in 1952, back row of
Zipp's employees

To view a larger image, click this thumbnail photo.


"How about Zipp's Pharmacy, they had great cherry cokes."
~ source unknown ~

"I remember Zipp's.  I was a soda jerk there for a while.  I made 75¢/hour plus tips.  I think the cherry cokes were a nickel. 
When the kids would come in for ice cream cones I would pack the cone and then put the scoop on top.  Couldn't help myself to the ice cream though. 
Oh, for the good old days."
~ Kathe Erickson, RHS '62 ~

"Oh, how I remember the old neighborhood down on 34th Avenue.  I also used to hang out at Marty's, go to the Leola Theatre, buy stuff at Zipp's, and hang out at the Airloha Drive-In.  I can remember when my mom would give me a quarter to run down to the bakery for bread.  I loved to browse the dime store.  You could buy Popsicles for a nickel at Zipp's.  We could go for walks at night and never a worry about anything happening to us, even on Lake Street. 
It is so different down there now.  Life was much simpler then."
~ Nancy Tannehill, RHS '62 ~

"One of my earliest memories of South Minneapolis (East side of Nokomis) would have to be walking to Zipp's Pharmacy,
at the corner of 34th Avenue & 50th street, with a nickel in my pocket, which was my allowance for the week, to sit at the soda fountain and get
a day old doughnut and a small suicide phosphate.  There was a Dime store next door where my sister and I could browse for what seemed to be hours. 
Sometimes I would spend my allowance on éclairs at Don’s Bakery, before it became Scandia. 
I remember watching my brothers jump off the 34th Avenue arched bridge into Minnehaha Creek (the bridge was arched way back when).  I also remember tubing down the creek, to the point just before the actual waterfalls.  Does anyone else remember ice skating on the creek at the old Longfellow House, which was open as a warming house in the winter (before it was moved)? 
I saw my first movie, 'Jaws', at the Nile Theater."
 ~ Melissa (Lynch) Skinner ~

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