It’s official: As of Tuesday, Lee’s Liquor Lounge will no longer be owned by Louie Sirian, the guy who manned the beloved Glenwood Avenue bar for almost 40 years and kept it cleaner than your grandma’s living room.
The timing couldn’t be more fitting, then, for Texas honky-tonker Dale Watson to return to town Saturday for his latest in a long line of Lee’s gigs.
“Even if I’d already turned over the bar, I’d still be here,” Sirian said Wednesday, anticipating a sell-out crowd for what amounts to his last big hurrah at Lee's. Advance tickets are sold out.
“If anybody deserves a big night at Lee’s, it’s Dale Watson,” Louie added.
On the road again promoting his latest album for St. Paul's Red House Records, "Call Me Insane," Watson is the guy who wrote and recorded the vintage saloon’s de facto anthem, “Louie’s Lee’s Liquor Lounge,” from his 1999 album “People I’ve Known, Places I’ve Been.” The song made light of the name confusion and Sirian’s decision to never change the sign outside.
“Louie thinks what really counts is what you got inside,” Watson sang. A live clip of the tune is posted below.
Said Sirian, “That song has given me PR that won’t quit. What more can you say? Dale has become a personal friend, too. He and I and his band usually go out to lunch when they’re here. It’s meant a lot to me all these years.”
Sirian’s dedication to Lee’s has meant a lot to Minneapolis. As we reported in May, he is selling the bar to Craig Kruckeberg, a businessman who lives in the nearby North Loop neighborhood and pledged to keep the bar as-is. The sale and liquor-license transfer went through without any hitch, Sirian said, and he will hand off the keys Tuesday. He plans to keep working right up until then. Of course he will.