Porky's is closed, but owners say, 'That's not all, folks'

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2011 - 8:28 PM

Tryg and Nora Truelson say they are trying to find a way to preserve the retro building and sign at a new location.

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Porky's, before it closed, on University Avenue in St. Paul

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The owners who are poised to sell Porky's, the distinctive St. Paul drive-in diner that served its final burgers and shakes Sunday after 58 years, said Tuesday that they are doing all they can to save the building rather than have it reduced to rubble.

Owners Tryg Truelson and his mother, Nora, said through their real estate broker that they are talking with parties about two options:

• Moving the red-and-white checkered building -- vintage signage included -- and have it stand as a memorial of sorts to the curbside business on University Avenue.

• Relocate the building and signage to a site in Minnesota, outside of the metro area, and have it operate as a restaurant.

Also, said broker Judy Mueller, the Truelsons are hoping to establish some kind of food booth at the State Fair.

Mueller said that she expects to know more in the coming days about how Porky's might live on in some form.

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota also has been working to save the building where generations of Twin Cities residents have enjoyed fast food and showed off their vintage hot rods.

Meanwhile, dozens upon dozens of items from the restaurant are being sold in an online auction that began Monday and was expected to wrap up Wednesday. Included in the sale were kitchen equipment, picnic tables and menus.

Noticeably absent from the offerings is the signature sign of a smiling pig that has shone high above Porky's for decades. Mueller said the decision to not sell that sign is no accident, given the prospect that the building might be relocated. For auction details, visit www.startribune.com/a290.

Fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette said Tuesday that officials with the Great Minnesota Get-Together have yet to hear from the Truelsons. And while there is no firm deadline on when space will be allotted, time is running out, she said.

As for the sale of the Porky's half-acre tract to its neighbors, the Episcopal Homes senior housing facility, Mueller said that everything is on track for the closing to be held by the end of the week.

Mueller said she was with Nora Truelson when the lights at Porky's went out Sunday night for the last time. Mueller said Truelson was lamenting that the closing of the restaurant seemed to garner more attention than the disappearance and death of her teenage daughter nearly 40 years ago.

Joli Truelson was killed after getting picked up on July 3, 1972, while hitchhiking near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. The 16-year-old's body was found in Minnehaha Creek, her skulled crushed.

Nora Truelson said the family is still offering $50,000 as a reward for catching whoever committed the crime.

"Everything I think about goes back to her," Nora Truelson said in an interview on July 3, 2005. "Who would she have married? Would there have been grandchildren? What kind of career would she have had?"

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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