Famed dive bar the C.C. Club sold to French Meadow

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER and MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 1/17/2013

Parking space was part of the incentive for the new owners, who say they don't plan to mess with the bar's, ahem, integrity.

Smoking bans hurt the C.C. Club's business, but its new owners hope to keep the place lit-up as-is.

A bar that’s a big part of Replacements lore and a mainstay of Uptown area Minneapolis hipsters for as long as there has been Uptown area hipsters, the C.C. Club has been sold to the owners of the neighboring French Meadow Bakery. The new bosses clearly hope to nip any and all cries of gentrification in the bud, however, by promising not to mess with the bar’s, um… timeless character.

“We view the C.C. Club as a neighborhood landmark supported by a loyal clientele and a dedicated staff, some of whom have worked at the bar for over 30 years,” French Meadow co-owner Lynn Gordon is quoted in the release. “We plan to maintain and continue the C.C.’s traditions, and the best way we thought we could do this was to continue neighborhood ownership. This will assure that 26th and Lyndale remains the home to both these unique businesses.”

One big reason Gordon and her partner, Steve Shapiro, coveted the C.C. was to also get their hands on the adjoining parking lot to use for both businesses. The bar originally dates back to the end of Prohibition and was owned for the past 28 years by Mo and Sharon Emard and Linda Rauen. Like a lot of bars of this variety, its business lagged when the city and state smoking bans in the mid-2000s, but has nonetheless remained a popular watering hole.

As rumors swirled last month about the bar’s sale and possible closing, both sides denied their legitimacy. However, in an interview Tuesday, Gordon said negotiations started three months ago. Gordon admitted that there was some talk of using the space for something other than the C.C. Club at some point. But boisterous community outcry amid the rumors laid any such notions to rest.
 
“It became very clear that the C.C. is a culture all its own and has a loyal following,” she said.
 
Mo Emard said Tuesday that he and Sharon plan to stay on for another 60 days during the transition, training in Gordon’s son, Jay Gordon, who will manage the bar. The new owners were introduced to C.C. staffers Monday in what sounds like an emotional meeting. “There were a few tears yesterday with the staff,” Moe said.
 
Gordon said the official closing date is still a month or two away and that she hopes to retain all the current staff.

“It’s just so clear that it needs to be the C.C. forever,” she said. “So, it’s my job, just as a curator would do of a museum, it’s my job to protect it and not try to fix something that isn’t broken.”

As for the Replacements tie-ins, Paul Westerberg was one of countless Twin Cities music vets who used to live near the C.C. and used it as inspiration for the “Tim” album’s classic downer closer “Here Comes a Regular.” It’s also where the replacement drummer on the band’s last tour, the late Steve Foley, earned the gig after randomly running into Westerberg there. You’re more likely to see Westerberg next door at French Meadow nowadays, though.

[Photo: Star Tribune file]