HENRY J. ARETZ
Henry John Aretz (pronounced “Arts’) was born on November 8, 1894 in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. His parents were Anton and Caroline Aretz, and Henry had nine brothers and sisters. As a young man he worked as a stock clerk at the Northwest Knitting Co. in Minneapolis, and served as a Private in the Army during World War I.
In about 1921 he married Charlotte Cherry, a woman everyone called Lottie. Henry and Lottie’s children are:
Elizabeth Jean “Betty”
Henry was a homebuilder, owner of Aretz Realty, and built several duplexes that he rented out. He had built the building that would become Bunny’s Tavern on spec, expecting to sell it. However, as the Depression deepened, his tenants became more and more behind on their rent, leaving the family with little income. They decided to open the building on Excelsior Blvd. as a restaurant, and they ran it themselves, despite their lack of experience. When Prohibition lifted in 1934 the restaurant got a liquor license and the famous Bunny’s was in business. After running it themselves in the early years, Henry returned to building houses and hired staff to run the tavern.
In 1930 the family was living in a house Henry had built at 3305 Hanke (now Huntington) Ave., which is in the Minikahada Oaks neighborhood behind Al’s Bar/the Ellipse. From at least 1935 to 1940 they lived in an apartment he had built onto the back of Bunny’s, with a bedroom on a second floor. In 1942 Henry built a house at 4701 W. 40th Lane. They later moved to a home he had built on 41st Street. The children went to Brookside School and graduated from St. Louis Park High School.
Daughter Betty’s husband owned many acres of farmland on the North Side of St. Louis Park, from Flag to County Road 18 (now 169) and from Cedar Lake Road to the Minneapolis Golf Club. Henry bought it and developed the area, platting five subdivisions in the area. He had plans to build a shopping center at Cedar Lake Road and Highway 18, but the city took the land by eminent domain for Cedar Manor Shopping Center, thus dashing daughter Beverly’s hopes of opening a dress shop. The family moved into one of the new houses at 2230 Flag, which was built in 1952.
Lottie died in 1969 and Henry died in November 1973.
When the liquor store at Bunny’s moved over to Miracle Mile, Henry’s son Harold became the manager of the store. Harold’s wife’s name was Dorothy Phillips and they had five children:
Harold died on July 28, 2011, at the age of 89. Dorothy died on April 19, 1995, at the age of 70.