February 5, 1934: Legal liquor sales return to Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1934 at approximately six p.m., liquor was sold sold legally in Duluth for first time since 1917. While national Prohibition had ended December 5, 1933, Duluth had voted to go dry in 1917—prior to national Prohibition—and the Duluth law had to be repealed before the Zenith City could follow the rest of the nation. The next day, headlines on the Duluth News Tribune declared “Debut is quiet, few celebrate at six places.” Under new laws, Duluth was allowed 50 on-sale licenses, but on that first day only nine had been permitted, five to restaurants, five to hotels, and two to clubs. The first person in line at the office of City Clerk C. D. Jeronimus to obtain an on-sale liquor license was Clarence A. Meyer for his Alexandria Hotel at 322 1/2 West Second Street. Meyer was also the first person to obtain a license when 3.2 percent beer was allowed the previous April. Those serving that first night included the Alexandria, the Holland Hotel Café, Jack E. Cerveny’s Jack’s Café at 220 East Superior Street (later known as the Red Lion and today home of Zeitgeist Arts Café), the Lyceum Café, John Salo’s restaurant at 528 West Superior Street, and Nick Inforzato’s café at 1426 Commonwealth Avenue. Duluth’s Elk’s Club and Kitchi Gammi Club also served liquor on the first day. Sales ended at midnight, according to the new law. The newspaper stated that “Lacking was the rush of consumers and the hilarity that marked the legalization of 3.2 percent beer last April.” That hilarity include German brass bands playing “Happy Days of Here Again” and bartenders smashing mug of Prohibition-era near beer. Duluth also granted twenty off-sale licenses, all that Duluth was allowed by the new state law, and liquor stores were allowed to open as early as 8  a.m. Liquor licenses went to sixteen liquor stores and four drug stores.  Learn more about Duluth’s post-Prohibition liquor laws here.

A lithographic postcard advertising Jack‘s Café, later the Red Lion and home to Zeitgeist Arts Café today. (Image: Zenith City Press)