Last Call: St. Cloud’s Press Bar Owners Reflect on Four Decades of Business, Hand Keys to New Owners [VIDEO]
ST. CLOUD - After more than four decades running a downtown St. Cloud bar, the owners have poured their last beer.
There was a changing of the guard at the Press Bar and Parlor last week when longtime owners Jim Gillespie and Greg Payne turned the keys over to Andrew and Jessie Welsh.
It's one of the most historic bars in town dating back to 1942. When the original owner, Fritze Frank, moved into the building at 502 St. Germain Street it was a pool hall on the main floor, and there was a beauty parlor up on the second floor. It was just half the size that we know as today, with a carpet store on the west side. Frank expanded into the carpet store location in the early 1950s. He ran the Press Bar and Cafe primarily as a restaurant during his 27 years of owning it.
After a couple of other brief ownerships, Gillespie and Payne bought the business in early 1975. At the time the upstairs had been turned into apartments. Gillespie says one of the more "famous" people that lived upstairs for free, in exchange for doing some work around the bar, was Paul Ellering.
In 1977 the upstairs was converted into a game room/pool hall. The game room was very popular until about the mid 1980s.
Another renovation in 1984 transformed the main bar into what it looks like today, including moving the front door from the middle of the building to the corner.
Gillespie says the people are what he'll remember most. He says it's hard to say how many marriages got their start at the Press.
Gillespie says, before last week, the last day he didn't go into the bar was 11 years ago when his wife died.
He says he's seen a lot of changes in the bar business over the years, including: the drinking age, the smoking laws, and people's drink preferences.
And, as he looks ahead to retirement, it's not the bar itself but the staff that he'll miss the most.