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February 2, 2004 // UPDATED 2:48 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Blues Alley closes

A longtime blues bar, The Alley, has closed its doors after eight decades as a Downtown watering hole.

The bar's former owner Red Goldberg said the bar is so old he can't say for certain when it opened, but he dates the bar back to the 1920s when it first came on the scene as the Valhalla on Washington Avenue.

It later moved into the first floor of the Lamoreaux Building at 15 N. Glenwood Ave., which now sits in the shadows of the Target Center and the 7th Street Ramp next to O'Donovan's Irish Pub, 700 1st Ave. N.

"It started as an old-fashioned railroad bar -- it was a real workingman's bar," Goldberg said, who earned his nickname for his red hair and temper.

Goldberg said, after 50 years in the bar business, he felt ready to retire. The space's new owner is Chris Diebold, co-owner of several area restaurants, including Downtown eateries, Maxwell's American Caf, Inc., 1201 Washington Ave. S.; and Harvey's Bar & Grill, 106 N. 3rd St.

Diebold could not be reach for comment, but Goldberg said he heard there are plans for a new sports bar.

Local blues guitarist Moses Oakland, who played with the house band at The Alley in the mid-1990s, said the bar had a reputation for drawing some of the finest local blues artists.

"It was true to the blues over the years," Oakland said.

The bar had several names over the years. After opening as the Valhalla, Goldberg called it the Red Roost when it moved into the Lamoreaux. It then became Blues Alley, but later dropped the Blues when a legendary Washington, D.C. club bearing the same name sued it for copyright infringement.

Highland Court jeweler retires

Helen Fisher, owner of the Le Ciel d'Or jewelry shop in the skyway level of the Highland Bank Court, 811 LaSalle Ave., often urges her customers to go flashy even if she prefers modest earrings herself.

Sometimes she'll don a more extravagant pair to show off pieces to customers. "I'm kind of a conservative -- a churchgoer, but I wear some dangles so people can see what it looks like. That's how I sell," she said.

Fisher plans to retire at the end of the month and close her shop. She has been in business for 26 years -- a venture she started when her children started school. Now she's ready to close up shop and spend more time at her lake home on Lake Independence.

Her collection includes handcrafted sterling silver pieces and semiprecious stones. She often traveled to shows on the East Coast and West Coast to buy jewelry for her store.

She said she drew customers from as far away as Rochester.

"We've been here forever. I will miss the loyal customers," she said.

Baker Center credit union branch opens

The City-County Federal Credit Union has opened a skyway branch in the Baker Center, 733 Marquette Ave. S.

The credit union was started 75 years ago by city workers. People who live, work or worship in Minneapolis are eligible to open an account.

Former Vikings players Jim Marshall and Mike Morris appeared at opening festivities the last week of January to promote Marshall's charity, Life's Missing Link, a nonprofit that provides counseling and resources for troubled youth.

The credit union pledged $5 toward the charity for every new account opened during the week-long festivities.

Dean Nelson, the credit union's president, said the cooperative was pleased to help a good cause.

"We're delighted to be able to support Jim's efforts to create more and better opportunities for young people to succeed," he said in a prepared statement.

The credit union has another Downtown location in the basement level of the Hennepin County Government Center at 302 S. 6th St., near a tunnel linking the building with City Hall.

The skyway branch hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.