Jim’s Hamburgers, 1980

November 27, 1980

Jim’s Hamburgers is crowded every day, so Jim and Jay Overlie stay open on Thanksgiving. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

JIM’S OPEN DOORS ARE A THANK YOU TO SOME FAMILIAR FACES

BY SANDY BATTIN OF THE NEWS-TRIBUNE STAFF

Time was, Jim’s Hamburgers was about the only place open on Thanksgiving. Jim Overlie kept his restaurants open on the holiday pretty much to serve his regular customers and anyone else passing through town – those with no place else to go.

There wasn’t any turkey and dressing, but the hamburgers and hotcakes were abundant.

Times have changed. Businesses have come and gone; buses that once brought hungry travelers downtown now arrive in western Duluth. And places like senior citizen centers offer hot holiday meals to the elderly.

But Jim’s Hamburgers still is open on Thanksgiving – as well as Christmas.

It’s a tradition that started in 1937, when Overlie first went into business. He worried about his regular customers, many old and without families, and about where they would eat holiday meals like Thanksgiving dinner.

"I always worked on the theory ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ " Overlie, now retired, says. "A lot of our regular customers were retired people who didn’t have facilities to cook. People were good enough to give us their business all year around," so Overlie figured he’d make sure those same people had someplace to eat on Thanksgiving.

Holiday business was a family project. Overlie’s son, Jay, who manages the four Jim’s Hamburgers restaurants, two on West Superior Street, one on East Fourth and the other at 502 E. First St., started working holidays as a boy.

"My daughter and son always came down on holidays," Overlie says. "They’d rather come down at Christmas than stay home. They got greater satisfaction doing that than unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree."

Waitresses would make cookies for some of their favorite customers and the elderly diners often would reciprocate with gift boxes of candy.

At one time, Christmas Eve was the busiest night of the year at Jim’s. Worshippers from nearby churches came in for after-service meals and last-minute shoppers thronged the place.

Jay Overlie stands in front of the Jim’s Hamburgers restaurant on West First Street. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Jim’s Thanksgiving business has dropped off a bit. "There’s a few you always get, but it’s not like it used to be," Jim Overlie said.

But the restaurants stay open on the holidays.

"It’s a hard thing to put in words," Jay said. "It’s more of an obligation where customers appreciate the fact you’re interested in them, too.

"The customers recognize each other. They don’t always talk, but when one is missing, they notice. They care about one another."

Even though he no longer works day-to-day in his restaurants, the elder Overlie expects to drop in at the three restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving (the store at 414 W. Superior will be closed).


According to a News-Tribune article from April 1982, the Jim’s Hamburgers location at 414 W. Superior St. was sold off that month and became a restaurant called Bragg’s. That left three Jim’s Hamburgers locations – 502 E. Fourth St., 2005 W. Superior St. and 205 W. First St.

On June 10, 1995, the News Tribune carried news that the original Jim’s Hamburgers location, the one on First Street, had just closed. Jim Overlie had sold his restaurants in 1985. New owner Dick Christensen said the cost of required health and fire code improvements were too high at the First Street restaurant, which seated 14 at the counter and 24 in the booths, and which in its earliest days was called the Blue and White Restaurant.

At the time, Christensen also owned the Jim’s Hamburgers locations on Fourth Street and in the West End on Superior Street. Here is a photo of the Fourth Street location from December 1996:

And here is a photo of the West End location from February 2001, when its owners were fighting the city smoking ban:

The East Fourth Street Jim’s Hamburgers location now is home to Quizno’s sandwich shop, which opened in April 2006 (though Jim’s Hamburgers is still listed in the phone book at that address). That leaves the West End location of Jim’s Hamburgers as the only one still in business.

Woolworth’s, 1993

March 19, 1993

Theresa St. Marie of Duluth (right) is a longtime customer of the Woolworth’s store at 106 W. Superior St. "It’s the only place left downtown," she said Thursday. "So many of the others have moved away or up over the hill." (Bob King / News-Tribune)

Woolworth’s did close, not long after that article ran in the paper. In October 1993 – just seven months later – Woolworth Corp. announced it was planning to close about half of its 800 variety stores, including the ones in downtown Duluth, Superior and Ashland.

There are no more Woolworth variety stores in the U.S.; the company has morphed several times and now is focused on sporting goods, through its Foot Locker stores. For more on the history of the company, check out its Wikipedia page.

Also, check out a previous Attic entry on the Duluth Woolworth’s grill.

Universal Atlas Cement Company

Date unknown

This photo shows a view looking south over the Universal Atlas Cement Company, with Gary and New Duluth in the distance. There is no date on this photo – does anyone have a guess?

The cement plant was located south of Morgan Park, adjacent to the U.S. Steel plant. One landmark visible in the photo that still exists today is a railroad bridge over Commonwealth Avenue, at right in the zoomed-in view below:

Kiddieland, 1975

Aug. 16, 1975

There isn’t much information to go with this photo – the caption just gives the dates and says "Zoo Ride – Kiddieland."

So… would this be part of the Lake Superior Zoo? Does anyone have memories of Kiddieland?

The rides listed on the ticket booth are the Giant Slide, Moon Walk, Airplanes, Boats, Autos, Kiddie Wheel, Little Dipper and Train; many of the rides can be seen in the photo. Here is a close-up of the sign:

TV flashback: Twin Peaks, 1990

September 1990

Kyle MachLachlan stars as FBI Agent Dale Cooper and Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman in the critically acclaimed, mysterious and offbeat dramatic series "Twin Peaks," which will return to the ABC Television Network’s prime time schedule this fall. "Twin Peaks" will air on Saturdays. (ABC promotional photo)

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Ila Borders shuts out Mike Wallace, 1998

August 22, 1998

Longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace protests an umpire’s call during the first inning of the Dukes game Friday night at Wade Stadium. Wallace was in town to interview Duluth-Superior Dukes pitcher Ila Borders, the first woman to pitch in a professional baseball game. (Tim Greenway / News-Tribune)

ILA SHUTS OUT `60 MINUTES’

FAMES CBS NEWSMAN MIKE WALLACE AND HIS TELEVISION CREW VISITED WADE STADIUM ON FRIDAY NIGHT TO INTERVIEW DUKES PITCHER ILA BORDERS. BUT A TOUGH INTERVIEWER FOUND THE INTERVIEW EVEN TOUGHER WHEN SHE REFUSED TO TALK ON GAME DAY.

BY TOM LARSON AND CHRIS MILLER, NEWS-TRIBUNE

World leaders, white-collar criminals, warlords — few of them have escaped the wrath of CBS news pit bull Mike Wallace.

But Wallace met his match Friday. Duluth-Superior Dukes pitcher Ila Borders brought the legend to HIS knees.

"She wouldn’t talk to me. She wanted nothing to do with me today," Wallace said before the Dukes’ 9-5 Northern League baseball loss Friday night against Sioux City at Wade Stadium. "She had her game face on. I saw her in the locker room and I didn’t say anything to her. She looked at me like I was a hair in her soup."

And the famed newsman had no choice but to retract his fangs.

"If you want cooperation, you do it," he sighed, smiling.

Wallace and a "60 Minutes" crew are filming and doing interviews for a story on Borders scheduled to run around the World Series, or earlier, if St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris’ major-league home run record.

Borders is the first woman to pitch in a professional game, and was making her seventh start of the season for the Dukes. She was featured in a New York Post story that caught Wallace’s eye. He pitched the idea to producer Jonathan Wells and they got the go-ahead, even though it’s not a typical Mike Wallace "60 Minutes" piece.

"When it (`60 Minutes’) started 30 years ago, Harry Reasoner was the heart of America, the white hat," Wallace said. "They needed somebody who was a total contrast. I was the black hat. I’m known for the investigative stuff, but to do a story like this is just a joy."

After Wallace and Wells sold the story to their CBS bosses, Wells traveled to Fargo, N.D., to watch Borders throw. Borders pitched six shutout innings and Wells talked with her following the game.

"It fits into the ’60 Minutes’ profile piece," Wells said. "It’s not what `60 Minutes’ has been known for for 30 years, but we do profiles of remarkable people, and this fits right in."

While Borders has gotten tons of fan support, some in the league aren’t thrilled she’s in it.

Sioux City manager Ed Nottle, who also has an ownership stake in the Explorers, is one.

"Ila’s always handled herself well — I don’t know Ila and I’m not knocking her," said Nottle. "I’m knocking the league. It’s incredible the integrity the Northern League has established in six years and I think this hurts the integrity of the league.

"When an Ila Borders shirt goes to the Hall of Fame and Pete Rose doesn’t, that’s ludicrous. That’s just my opinion."

It was an opinion he repeated during an interview with Wallace after saying, "Mike Wallace and (`60 Minutes’) are here for this is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard."

Borders probably didn’t find anything funny about her outing Friday. She gave up three two-run homers in the first two innings and was relieved with one out in the second inning with the Dukes down 7-0.

Borders will sit for an interview with Wallace today.

"Things like this make a it a little tough to concentrate," Borders said after the game.

Duluth-Superior Dukes pitcher Ila Borders throws the first pitch of the game against the Sioux Falls Canaries on July 9, 1998. It marked the first time a woman started a professional baseball game. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)

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Wallace, 80, interviewed several Dukes and manager George Mitterwald before Friday’s game. Mitterwald hadn’t used Borders much until late in the first half of this season, when she started twice after the Dukes were eliminated from the pennant race.

"I just told him I didn’t have enough confidence to use her in tight games," said Mitterwald. The Dukes manager has been impressed with Borders in three of her starts, including two in which she pitched six shutout innings.

Former National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones was flown in for the game to comment for Wallace. Jones was noted for throwing with limited velocity, like Borders, but had success by being crafty.

"We’re similar," said Jones, who threw out the game’s first pitch. "I first became aware of Ila a couple of years ago when she was at Southern California College. I talked to her on a radio show and my advice was, `Be aggressive. Go after the hitters.’ "

St. Scholastica baseball coach John Baggs sat next to Wallace during the game and kept track of the speed of Borders’ pitches with a radar gun. Borders’ top speed was 77 mph. She threw 32 pitches, 21 for strikes, and was pulled after allowing Marty Neff’s second two-run home run with one out in the second.

Wallace patiently signed autographs, but headed back to his hotel after Borders left the game. Wallace clearly was taking sides in this story, however. After he interviewed Nottle, Wallace told the Explorers’ manager, "I hope she rubs your face in it."

Said Nottle: "I told him I could find a place for him in my organization, but it definitely wouldn’t be as a scout."

Borders retired from professional baseball in 2000 and pursued a career as a firefighter in California. She visited Duluth in February 2002 for the Dukes’ annual Hot Stove Banquet; here is a photo of her speaking at that event:

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Captain’s Table, 1959

Following up on the discussion on a previous post about the Medical Arts Building, here is more on the Captain’s Table cafeteria:

Aug. 4, 1959

View of the new Captain’s Table cafeteria in the Medical Arts Building. (Duluth Herald photo)

‘CAPTAIN’S TABLE’ NOW OPEN

The Garbers were the first to hold the catering contract at the Duluth Arena-Auditorium when it opened in 1966; an article at that time said they also operated cafeterias in the Northern City National Bank and First American National Bank. The Captain’s Table closed in 1972:

Taking names

News Tribune Attic readers-

Many of you have sent requests for photos and/or articles about specific places and events to be posted on this site. Thanks for your interest – I try to research every request I get, and post anything I’m able to find.

The Attic’s photo files generally are broken into two categories – the "subject" files and the "people" files. The majority of what I have posted on the site so far is from the "subject" files – places, businesses, events. While I’m in no danger of running out of photos anytime soon, I’d like to explore the "people" files more – photos filed by individuals’ last names.

That’s where you come in. I’d appreciate any suggestions for names to look up – local celebrities from years past, national celebrities who visited town, people who for some reason had their 15 minutes of fame and would have appeared in the Duluth newspapers. The years best represented in the files are from 1960 to the present.

If you ever have a "I wonder whatever happened to…." moment, jot that name down and send me an e-mail at akrueger@duluthnews.com. Thanks, and keep visiting the Attic.


With the previous entry on Mr. D’s, all of the Attic’s files on "Mr." businesses have been used up – save one. The files on the Mister Fixit repair shop contain a story much more complex than I first thought. Some of you may know what I’m referring to; for the rest, I’ll post that info when I have some more time to sort through the articles.

Mr. D’s

July 16, 1985

Mr. D’s owner and bartender Alan Terway talks with John Matheson, who was a bartender there years ago (maybe under a previous owner – the Terways bought the place in about 1979, according to news articles). (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

Mr. D’s, a West Duluth institution, pops up several times in the News Tribune Attic. Most of the articles relate to the fire that destroyed the bar on March 28, 1993, and the subsequent rebuilding of the bar, restaurant and banquet facility:

Alan and Dwayne Terwey stand in the ruins of Mr. D’s bar in June 1993, a few months after it was destroyed by fire.

March 30, 1993

‘IT’S ALL GONE’

OWNERS, TENANTS LOSE EVERYTHING AT MR. D’S

BY ANDREA NOVEL, NEWS-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

Alan Terwey stared numbly at the burned shell of the former Mr. D’s bar.

A woman came up and hugged him. She spoke with encouragment about helping his family rebuild their business.

Choking back tears, he left to walk around the building. He had to. He couldn’t talk any more about the Sunday night fire that ravaged the business he and his father owned and operated for 14 years.

On Monday morning, the bar in the 5600 block of Grand Avenue drew a steady stream of onlookers – former patrons, curious neighbors, concerned business owners from adjacent blocks.

They came to see what was left. There wasn’t much. …

On Sunday night, Mr. D’s had been doing a quiet business. About 12 customers were inside when the fire started.

Some patrons smelled smoke coming from air vents around 6:30 p.m. Someone reportedly tried to extinguish some cardboard boxes that were on fire in the basement. When that attempt failed, the fire department was called.

Richard Dahl was taking a shower and his wife was watching television when a smoke detector sounded in their upstairs apartment. He opened the kitchen door and smoked poured in.

"We ran downstairs and out of the building," he said.

That was all the couple had time to do. They lost all their belongings, including mementos from 42 years of marriage. Some remnants of their furniture could be seen on the main floor of the bar.

But they still have each other.

Firefighters, who arrived on the scene shortly after 7 p.m., made several attempts to get into the basement but couldn’t because of the intense heat. …

By 8 p.m. the fire was out of control. It took 40 firefighters more than two hours to gain control of it. …

The Terweys were there with clothing, money and support when Paul Conito’s house burned down on New Year’s Day a few years ago. They also held a benefit for him at the bar.

Conito, the new owner of the Rustic Bar down the street, and other area business owners plan to do the same for the Terweys, he said. "They care about the people, now the people care about them," Conito said. …


The bar reopened in August 1993 – less than five months after the fire. Dwayne Terwey, Alan Terwey’s father and a co-owner of the bar, died in July 2001. Here is the obituary that ran in the News Tribune on July 31, 2001:

BELOVED MR. D’S OWNER DIES

NEWS TRIBUNE

Pen in hand, tears welling in her eyes, Bobbi Pirkola searched for just the right words early Monday.

Her longtime friend, Dwayne Terwey, had succumbed to cancer just hours earlier. He left behind an extended family of thousands and a legacy of caring and giving that made his Mr. D’s Bar and Grill the heart of West Duluth. Over the past two decades, Terwey opened the tavern’s doors more than 200 times to sponsor fund-raisers and benefits for the victims of accidents, fires, diseases and anyone else who needed a boost.

Terwey was 63.

"Dwayne never turned away anyone who needed help," Pirkola said. "I’m writing the obituary right now. I’ve done a few of these in my time, but I really am having a hard time with this one. Where do you start?"

How about the beginning?

Terwey grew up in Morgan Park. He was pampered by three sisters and supported by U.S. Steel, where his father worked.

After graduating from Morgan Park High School, he and four buddies bought a hunting shack and a piece of forest near Pequaywan Lake, just north of Duluth. They traveled there often. Photos from the trips filled Terwey’s basement office at Mr. D’s.

This November, they’ll be there again, minus one, to open the 2001 hunt.

"It certainly is going to make for a lonely forest," said Willie MacDonald, one of Terwey’s hunting buddies. "With someone like him so interwoven in the fabric of my life, it will take some time for me to sort everything out. One thing for certain, life will never be the same for me. To be with him was always a joy. He made me laugh."

Terwey got his first inkling something might be wrong with him just before last November’s hunt. He felt a twinge in his back — a quick, sharp pain — whenever he sneezed or coughed. He went in for a physical in December. X-rays showed fluid near his lungs. A specialist diagnosed cancer.

He traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and to a leading cancer center in Houston. Surgery was ruled out, chemotherapy started.

In February, Terwey was humbled — and a little embarrassed — when as many as 5,000 people turned out for yet another benefit and spaghetti feed at Mr. D’s. This one was in Terwey’s honor. It was reminiscent of an outpouring of support he and his family received in 1992 when fire gutted their bar.

"When so many people helped him back then, he vowed he would spend the rest of his days helping others. And he did," said Tony Pryatel, a Duluth contractor and another of Terwey’s hunting buddies from Morgan Park. "He did so many things for so many people. No one will ever know about all of it. No way. As one of his best friends, for me, his passing leaves nothing but heartache."

Terwey died about 4:45 p.m. Sunday in St. Mary’s Hospice in Duluth. Several lifelong friends, his wife, and other family members were at his bedside. He had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance three days earlier when breathing became difficult.

"He loved life," said Terwey’s brother-in-law, Don Galeski. "He was one heck of a fighter in this battle. He fought right to the end. He never gave up. He’ll always be remembered as a pillar of the community, a hard worker and a very generous person. He was also someone who just loved to hunt and fish."

Terwey will be remembered this weekend during Spirit Valley Days, West Duluth’s annual summer celebration. At the parade Thursday, the grand marshal’s car will be left empty in Terwey’s honor. At the street dance, Denfeld-maroon ribbons will be sold and worn in his memory for $1 apiece. Proceeds will go to his family.

"Your last name never had to be Terwey to be a part of his family," said Mary Jurek, one of nearly 20 friends who helped organize the February fund-raiser for Terwey. "Dwayne is going to be remembered for a very, very long time. This is a man who always had an open door and an open heart for anyone who needed anything. He was always there. Now we have to find a church big enough to hold everybody. It won’t be easy."

Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday in Holy Family Catholic Church in Lincoln Park (West End).

Larry Antonich plans to attend. Terwey was there for him after Antonich’s son was abducted and killed in 1996. A spaghetti feed at Mr. D’s that raised about $17,000 helped to establish the Paul Antonich Scholarship Fund. The fund provides $1,000 a year now to help high school track and cross country athletes pay for their higher education.

"Dwayne was so gracious to allow his facility to sponsor that event. But that was him. He was a great role model of what it means to give back to your community," Antonich said Monday. "He and I spent many hours talking about fathers and sons. It was always a pleasure to be in his company. Dwayne Terwey will be greatly missed. He was very special to this community. We all owe him so much. So very much."


Here are a few more photos of Mr. D’s from the archives:

Vikings fans (from left) Larry Fontaine, George Fasteland, Jim Jablonski and Paul Conito (standing) watch the team’s playoff game against the Redskins on Jan. 2, 1993 at Mr. D’s. The Vikings lost the game. (News-Tribune photo)


Jerry Ujdur and Paula Bergren receive a Softball in the Snow Tournament entry Saturday, Feb. 5, 1983, from Tim Miller (right) of Superior at Mr. D’s in West Duluth. (News-Tribune & Herald photo)

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Mr. Nick’s, 1980

Nov. 30, 1980

Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburger on Superior Street in downtown Duluth, Nov. 1980. (News-Tribune photo)

PATRONAS WINS BURGER KING BATTLE ROYAL

BY BILL BECK OF THE NEWS-TRIBUNE

Nick the Burger King is managing a Burger King. So what else is new?

But the opening of Duluth’s new Burger King restaurant at 208 E. Central Entrance last month marks a milestone of sorts for the Patronas family of the Twin Ports. When the fast-food hamburger restaurant finally threw open its doors, it meant the end of a years-long battle lining up restauranteur George N. Patronas, 48, and son Nicholas G., 25, on one side and giant Pillsbury Corp. and the Duluth City Planning Commission on the other.

It all started, said Nick Patronas, a former offensive tackle for the UMD football team, when his dad started Nick’s Burger King restaurant at 2202 W. Superior in 1958. "It was the first year-round drive-in in Minnesota," he said. The restaurant burned down in 1970, and the family opened an eating establishment with the same name on West Superior Street downtown.

Nick’s dad had registered the trade name Burger King in St. Louis County, so when Burger King Corp., the big Miami fast food subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Pillsbury, came into the Duluth market in the early 1970s, it offered the Patronas family $30,000 for the use of the name. Although the Patronases still were in the hole from the fire in 1970, they turned down the offer, partly because they felt the hamburger they were selling downtown was a better burger than the one offered by the fast-food chain.

"We didn’t think Burger King was that good," Nick said, adding quickly that the Patronas family had another reason for turning down the money. "We wanted to be the franchisees." …

The Patronases and Burger King Corp. sniped back and forth for more than four years … until Nick called company President Don Smith one day and asked him for the franchise. Smith, the brilliant manager Pillsbury hired away from McDonald’s …. told Patronas he approved.

"We dickered with lawyers five years," Nick said, "and this guy says ‘you got it’ in 20 seconds."

Part of the franchise agreement involved the family giving up the name Burger King at the downtown restaurant. "We plastered over the sign downtown," he said. It now reads Nick’s Famous Charburgers. Everything else — napkins, menus, inside signs — had Burger King taken off.

Patronas and Burger King Corp. located a piece of property at 208 E. Central Entrance … two years ago this month.

But then they ran into trouble from another direction. The area was under a development moratorium while the City Planning Commission sorted out the effect of development in the Central Entrance-Miller Trunk corridor.

In May, the commission approved construction of the Burger King … subject to several conditions — one of which was that no more curb cuts would be allowed. What that meant was that Burger King could build, but traffic would have to come into the restaurant parking lot from the back. …

The Patronas family appealed the planning commission decision to the City Council, which overruled the planning commission and allowed Burger King to make one curb cut. …

Burger King may be the first of several new franchises in the area. Last week, building permits were taken out for a Ground Round restaurant – a Howard Johnson’s subsidiary – on Maple Grove Road near Target. …

The Patronas family has the right to build three Burger Kings in the Duluth area, a job which probably will have to wait until Nick and his dad can assess how well the first unit is doing.

 


 

The Patronas family had a number of restaurants in the Duluth area. A 1970 News-Tribune article listed the following: Mr. Nick’s Downtown, 220 W. Superior St.; Mr. Nick’s Burger King, 2202 W. Superior St.; Burger King, 1601 Woodland Ave.; Hamburger Shop, West End; and Nick’s King’s Inn, Superior.

George Nick Patronas, the "King of Burgers" in Duluth, died in December 1990 at age 59. His obituary in the News-Tribune included the following quote from his wife, Patricia: "He was very, very proud of his food and what he served the public. He wanted the best. He served the best. … He loved his customers. He’d tell the kids who worked for him, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to have a customer come in and give you money.’ "

FEBRUARY 1996: Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburgers on Superior Street will soon close for a month and reopen as a Burger King. The popular family-run restaurant is owned by Nick Patronas (center) and his sisters, Liz Abrahamson (left) and Julie Johnson. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

The Patronas family continues to be involved in the restaurant business. The downtown location was converted to a Burger King for several years in the mid-1990s before reverting back to the Mr. Nick’s name. It finally closed in 2002; here is the coverage of its closure:

CHARBURGERS NIXED

OWNER OF DULUTH’S LANDMARK GREASY SPOON HANGS UP HIS APRON

BY PETER PASSI, NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

A burger joint that’s become an institution in downtown Duluth - Mr. Nick’s - has served its last Charburger.

Owner Brian Patterson called the decision to hang up his apron "extremely tough," but said that at this point in life, "My family has to come first."

Running the restaurant regularly required Patterson to make a weekly time commitment of 65 to 70 hours. With three children - ages 7, 9 and 13 - at home, and another in college, Patterson decided that spending time with his family was more important than continuing to run a restaurant.

"The toughest part is leaving all my downtown friends and neighbors," Patterson said.

The restaurant, which employed 14 people, quietly closed Monday at the end of regular business hours.

The Patronas family opened Mr. Nick’s in 1928, and Patterson, a longtime employee of the restaurant, bought the business at 220 W. Superior St. four years ago. Patterson began working at Mr. Nick’s in 1975.

Liz Abrahamson, whose grandfather founded the restaurant, said Patterson had her family’s blessing to continue using the Mr. Nick’s name. "He (Patterson) has been working there since he was 15. He’s family to us."

Both Abrahamson and Patterson said they’re not prepared to pass on the name to any prospective new owner.

But Patterson said the business is on the market. He said the restaurant’s equipment will remain, and a new restaurant could open in short order.

"First and foremost, I’d love to see someone else succeed there, because I love the downtown."

Mr. Nick’s has survived other interruptions in the past. During World War II, it closed briefly when the Patronas family was temporarily unable to return from a visit to Greece.

It also closed for about two years - from 1996 to 1998 - after Nick Patronas, owner of the franchise rights to Burger King in Duluth, unsuccessfully tried to replace it with a Burger King.