Turf Club

1601 University Avenue West
Saint Paul, MN 55104


The venerable music bar at 1601 University Avenue near the corner of Snelling hasn't always been known as the "Turf Club." As early as the 1920s, it was Hove Food Market, Inc. Groceries. Next door, however, two men were operating a pool hall named for themselves Kirch and Gillis. At some point after Prohibition ended in 1933, they took over the food store and converted it into a bar with the same name.

Perhaps the most notable event in the bar's history took place during this period, a three- alarm fire in November 1942. Its cause was mysterious, though officials thought it wasn't of "incendiary origin." A local newspaper report did note that the fire was difficult to extinguish because of exploding liquor bottles. No one was injured except for 79-year-old Mrs. Julia A. Kehne, who tripped over a fire hose the next day. By 1945, the bar had re-opened as Kirch & Gillis Beverages. The two men were its proprietors until it became Kirch & Gillis Café, serving lunches and dinners with dancing, entertainment and new owners.

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