Lunchtime Tourist

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January 27, 2003 // UPDATED 4:23 pm - April 27, 2007
By: written and illustrated by Linda S. Koutsky
written and illustrated by Linda S. Koutsky</I>

In 1855, Gottlieb Gluek left his German homeland in search of the American dream. Almost 150 years later, Minneapolitans can still enjoy the fruits of his success. Venture into Gluek's Bavarian-style bar and restaurant and become transported into an old-world beer hall.

When Gottlieb arrived in Minneapolis, he unpacked his steamer trunk, dusted off his valuable lager-making skills, and opened a brewery. The competition was steep, but by 1901 only the giants, Grain Belt and Hamm's, surpassed Gluek's capacity.

Prohibition arrived Jan. 17, 1920, and while the Downtown bar temporarily closed, the brewery remained active by making root beer, soft drinks, and "near beer" which contained only 3.2 percent alcohol. More than half the breweries in the area didn't survive, but when Gluek's bar reopened April 7, 1933, a crowd gathered outside and posed for the photo hanging in the bar today. The Holcombs bought the restaurant in 1934, and today it's run by the third and fourth generation of the family!

The building that houses the bar and restaurant was designed by Boehm and Cordella and built in 1902. The style of the building is Beaux-Arts Classical based on principles taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. Proportions, symmetry and decoration follow ancient Greek and Roman ideals incorporating columns, pediments, carved balustrades, and sculptural decorations like the fruited swags under the third-floor windows and the oval cartouche at the building's top.

The dark wood interior contained vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. The upper floors housed a hotel where a fire started in 1989 that gutted the building. Thankfully, the owners faithfully reproduced the interior within the existing shell. Now historic photos grace the walls along with giant taxidermy mounts.

Gluek's brewery, run separately from the restaurant, now resides in Cold Spring, near St. Cloud, and produces seven kinds of beer. The water is naturally filtered through the area's vast granite bedrock. Tours are available by appointment by calling 320-685-8686.

LUNCH TIP: Open-faced sandwiches are the house specialty. Order a popular Gluek's pilsner and you'll think you've flown to Munich for lunch.

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