This is the southeast corner of Excelsior and Natchez, which became the home of Jenning’s Liquors. There was activity here from the early 1920s, but records are scarce and addresses changed, so this is a best guess.
In 1922 Robert Johnson, who owned much land on the Boulevard, operated a restaurant/store with the address 4649. The building was connected to the Village water main in 1932, and a permit in 1933 indicated that he made an addition to his soda fountain. On October 5, 1935, Johnson opened his new Pavilion, a new building built for dancing and drinking the new-legal beer. Ad below is from the Hennepin County Review:
Johnson owned the building until at least 1936, which is the date of the photo below.
To the left you can see the entrance to the Johnson Family Garden (see below). This photo may have been taken from the back (Vallacher).
From about 1939 to about 1942, the large restaurant building was the Swan Café, operated by Charles Swahn. The 1940 ad said “For your comfort visit our lovely beer garden. The only one of its kind in the Northwest.” This may have been on the former grounds of the Johnson Family Garden.
In 1943 it was taken over by the Park Baptist Church – how long we don’t know. (The permanent church building on Highway 100 was dedicated in 1953.) The house behind it on Vallacher was built as a parsonage.
In June 1948, H. A. Campbell ran the Hasty Tasty at the SE corner of Natchez and Excelsior.
In 1949, the building on Natchez was expanded to the east and became Jack Pestello’s Big Ten Food Store/Town and County One Stop Food Market, one of the longest-named (and shortest-lived) grocery stores in town. Despite the use of the word “modern,” the picture in the directory shows a building that looks pretty worn out. This store is only identified as being located at Excelsior and Natchez. In January 1950 it was Hodroff Big Ten Food Store, but on March 22, 1950, Buy Rite Super Market, run by Dave and Harry Ostrow, opened at the spot.
1951 to about 1961 saw the A&K Supply Co., and in 1961, Rosland’s Apache Camping Center (same business?).
By 1965 the building had apparently been foreclosed upon, for it was owned by the Northwest National Bank Trust Department. The building was demolished.
JOHNSON’S FAMILY GARDEN
Next to the restaurant was the Johnson Family Garden, which was a fun spot that featured a rock garden and canaries. There were a series of tents, which may have been for family picnics. These photos are courtesy of the Johnson family.
A new building was built in 1966. At some point, perhaps when the new building was built, the address changed to 4631. The new building was still owned by the bank until about 1984, when it was sold to Barry Nelson dba Business Properties, at least until 1988. In 1990 the owner appears to be Paul Onslud, who may have been connected with the PDQ store at 4611 Excelsior.
Tenants during that time include: (dates may not be all-inclusive:
Farmer Seed and Nursery (1966-72), home of “Master Farmer” Seeds and owned by the Danish Seed Co. of Faribault. In 1969 the local manager was Richard Horner.
- Kitchens by Design (1973-78) owned by Louis Nauman
- Park Lighting Studio (1976)
- Barry Nelson Classy Clothes Resale (1983)
- Barness Shaver and Appliance (1984-93)
- Jorgenson Clocks (1985-86)
- Samples Inc. (9/1990-1991) Jim Bishop
- Clean n’ Press (1991-1993)
In 2001 the building was purchased by Jim Jennings, who moved his liquor store to the site when the Excelsior and Grand project displaced him across the street.
In March 2017, Jenning’s Liquor suddenly went out of business and a For Rent sign was posted. The liquor was sold for 25 and then 50 percent off; the last thing left was a shelf of Gilbey’s Gin.