McLean, 83, was a key player in the metro nightspot, as well as an artist, flight attendant and adventurer.
Louise (Lou) McLean of Minneapolis, who turned her artistic talents to business ventures and was a key player at the Loring Café, Bar & Playhouse in Minneapolis, lived with a sense of adventure.
McLean, a former flight attendant and Alaska resident, died March 18 in Robbinsdale. She was 83.
Her son Jason, who launched the Loring in 1983, said he couldn't have done it without her.
She served as office manager for the cafe, but was more than her title implied, according to her son and others who now operate the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown.
"Lou was an inspired and accepting person," Jason said. "She encouraged others so strongly, providing a lot of courage."
She was shy at first meeting, but would warm easily to people, offering the artists and employees good counsel. "She was a mother figure to so many," said her son.
But she knew that the restaurant business is demanding.
"She was a tough nut when it came to running the office," said Lynn Nyman of Minneapolis, a former Loring Café manager, who continues to work for Jason McLean. "That's what helped make it a success."
Ron Gradisher of St. Paul, a longtime Loring employee, worked with Lou McLean on the Loring's decor and floral displays. "She was very caring and interested in whatever you were doing," he said.
McLean also designed and constructed Italian Renaissance costumes for her son Jason's Commedia Theater Co.
After graduating from Minneapolis' North High School, she entered the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, graduating in 1947. There she was honored by Vogue magazine for fashion design in the mid-1940s, something "she was really proud of," said her son.
About 1950, she worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines.
She married an airline pilot who eventually attended law school and serve in Alaska's justice system. The family lived in Alaska twice during the 1950s and '60s, with a stint between in Minneapolis.
In Alaska, she worked various jobs, including for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and for an airline. She also enjoyed photographing and painting landscapes and portraits, and traveling in Alaska.
"She saw beauty in people," said another son, Samuel McLean of Yelm, Wash. She was an accomplished oil painter and watercolorist who had a quasi-impressionistic style, he said.
She co-owned Alaska Designs, a greeting card company, using her artwork. The firm also made marionettes.
Back in Minneapolis by the late 1960s, she came up with an idea for plaques featuring a motherly cartoon character giving domestic advice. The whole family helped make them, doing business as Ma Crabb Inc., with national distribution.
Around 1980, she served on a ship's crew of an expedition of scientists that was studying lightning on the Mediterranean Sea.
"She was willing to go outside traditional comfort zones to try new adventures," said Sam McClean..
She and her husband, Daniels McLean of Renton, Wash., divorced around 1970. In addition to her sons and her former husband, she is survived by a sister, Marian Behrend of Minneapolis and four grandchildren.
Services have been held.