Loop Back: Unusual Saloonkeepers, Corruption and Ghosts, Oh My!
The building that’s been home to Cuzzy’s for more than 25 years has a long, colorful history of happy times mixed in with a little corruption, some ghost sightings and two women taking on the rare position of saloonkeeper.
Built in the late 1880s, it’s now virtually unrecognizable from the way it looked a century ago when it was part of a two-story duplex. The eastern section was torn down in the 1970s to create a parking lot. And that demolition weakened the remaining structure so much, they had to remove the upper floor to save it. By that point, previous owners had also added stone and other modifications to the exterior.
From 1894 to 1944 (the period with most of the drama), it was known as Maurer’s Saloon. It was originally owned by the Gluek Brewing Company but run by a German immigrant family, the Maurers.
News reports indicate Louis Maurer did well enough with the business to buy a nice home and a cottage on Medicine Lake. But when he died by suicide in 1909, his widow, Elizabeth, battled the Minneapolis City Council for the right to take over. Some aldermen objected to a woman being a saloonkeeper, but she ultimately won approval.
By the time she turned the business over to her young son, Fred, in 1912, the city had a policy not to grant any more liquor licenses to women. So a newspaper article stated, “Mrs. Maurer will probably be the last woman to enter the liquor business in the city.”
As it turned out, though, Fred Maurer’s wife, Mabel, would also end up running the business 17 years later when Fred went to prison. He himself had become a city alderman but was caught accepting bribes in exchange for approving building permits. After his release, Fred and Mabel ran the business together for nearly 10 years.
From the mid-40s to the mid-90s, the bar went through various management and name changes including a 20-year run as Mutt and Jeff’s. But in 1995, two cousins, John Lee and Bobby Goral, bought the place and called it Cuzzy’s.
They’ve developed a loyal base of customers who’ve helped decorate the walls with dollar bills.
Both John and Bobby are convinced that the bar is haunted by at least one ghostly spirit. They call her Betsy, and even have a section of their menu urging visitors to “Toast the Ghost.”
Several paranormal experts have visited the bar, and some have theorized that Betsy was a woman who lived in a room upstairs (or “worked” up there) and is waiting for a lost love to return to her.
We have several more pages of neighborhood history in our Historic North Loop section.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association