Warning – this post is kind of depressing.
A few weeks ago, a reader tipped me off that the famous (infamous?) Blondie’s bar in Brooklyn Park is slated for demolition this month. He invited me to photograph the demolition, but unfortunately it’s occurring when I am out of town.
So instead, I headed over to the now-vacant bar to photograph it before it turns to rubble. And probably by the time you’re reading this, it *is* a pile of broken bricks and smashed boards.
Blondie’s is a Brooklyn Park icon and I’m sure a lot of you current/former BP/BC residents tied one on here a time or two. As for me? Well, you’re going to be disappointed. I’ve never been to Blondies. That’s right. Me, a blogger who blogs about old Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center iconic establishments never went to this place.
But can you blame me? Keep in mind, I grew up in Brooklyn Park. I was a kid/teen when I lived here. Blondies, as you know, isn’t really a place for kids. It’s a bar located next to the notorious Century Court Apartments, which even back in the day, were always pretty shady. Can you really blame my parents for not taking us here? By the time I became of age to drink, I didn’t live in the area anymore.
The history of this place is pretty simple. Blondie’s used to be a Mr. Steak, which, like its name indicates, was a steakhouse chain restaurant. Mr. Steak opened in 1969 and in 1990, the owner changed it over to Blondie’s (the Mr. Steak franchise as a whole had financial woes since the mid-’80s but didn’t disappear entirely until the mid ’90s). Personally, I don’t remember this as a Mr. Steak — I only remember this location as a Blondie’s. The owner, Dick Gunderson, expanded the building in 1996 and in 2001 added the outdoor patio.
This is where the story gets depressing. See, Blondie’s isn’t exactly located in a nice area. It never has been a nice area, for that matter, but despite this, the bar kept on, keepin’ on. It’s said to be the longest running business in Brooklyn Park that is still owned by its original owners — absolutely amazing! But all of those troubled apartments near this bar were a recipe for crime. Night after night, frequent calls into the Brooklyn Park PD placed this watering hole high on the 5-0′s radar. The owner approached this problem with an unconventional solution: build a high wall around the parking lot and slather grease over the top to keep the riff raff from jumping the wall.
Now, I’m not sure what happened after that, but Blondie’s did not shut down because of the murder. Blondie’s would remain open for several more years.
2008 wasn’t a good year for Blondie’s — the murder wasn’t the only tragedy to happen. In the summer of ’08, Thor, the owner’s adult son, died at age 42 of a heart attack.
And in December 2011, Dick Gunderson, the bar owner, committed suicide. According to the StarTribune, “Friends say he was heartbroken over the July 2008 death of his son, Thor, 42, who was in line to take over the bar.” After his death, Blondie’s closed, though I could not find out an exact date.
Dick Gunderson was passionate about the community and served on many committees in the city of Brooklyn Park including serving on the committee for developing the former Village North area.
In April 2012, the city of Brooklyn Park purchased Blondie’s. The bar is slated for demolition and redevelopment as we speak.
Memories of Blondies? Share in the comments!
Photos below taken June 2012