Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurante opens, 1984

Sept. 5, 1984


Mike Swanson (left) is interviewed by Candy Pilon, service manager for Chi-Chi’s, at the Government Service Center in Duluth in this Sept. 5, 1984, photo. (Chuck Curtis / News-Tribune)

Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurante opened Oct. 4, 1984, in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex in Duluth.

The restaurant closed Sept. 19, 2004, 15 days shy of its 20th anniversary.

Nearly 200 people applied for jobs before the restaurant opened, according to a 1984 News Tribune story.

Baja Billy’s currently occupies the space where Chi-Chi’s used to reside.


Scott Solomon, restaurant trainer from St. Paul, wipes a table clean at the new Chi-Chi’s restaurant in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex in this Oct. 4, 1984, photo. (Bob King / News-Tribune)


Michael Davis, manager of Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurante, appears in this Oct. 10, 1984, photo. The restaurant seats 210 people. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

King Kong on Central Administration Building, 1990

Jan. 18, 1990


School board has “monkey” on its back: King Kong is atop the Central Administration Building in this snow sculpture in the front yard at 2101 E. 4th St. in Duluth in this Jan. 18, 1990, photo. (Chuck Curtis / News-Tribune)

Snow sculptures in winter are a common sight in the front yard of Harry Welty’s home on the corner of 21st Avenue East and Fourth Street in Duluth.

One of his creations, depicting a King Kong-esque gorilla atop the Central Administration Building in downtown Duluth, has become the mascot for the former Duluth School Board member’s Web site.

“You found Phil,” Welty said Tuesday in a phone interview. “I very much enjoyed making that one.”

Welty, who began building snow sculptures around 1987-88, estimated he spent about four days’ worth of time on the gorilla-administration building project in January 1990.

“I try to do it when [the snow is] warm, sticky,” said Welty, a member of Let Duluth Vote, a group opposed to the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan. “Then I’m working with clay instead of chipping away marble.”

Other Welty snow sculptures include the Lincoln Memorial, Bill Clinton playing saxophone, dinosaurs and Mount Rushmore.

Kolar Buick Toyota fire, 1984

July 18, 1984


Heavy smoke wafts from the Kolar Buick Toyota dealership in Duluth in the early stages of a fire that later raged out of control, consuming the building and its contents. Early reports estimate 35 to 40 cars were destroyed. (John Rott / News Tribune)

Fire ravaged the Kolar Buick Toyota dealership on the night of July 18, 1984, in Duluth.

The building, which resides at 1402 E. Superior St., was spared, and the business continued to operate its Duluth dealership from that location until 1998, when the business moved to its current spot — which opened in 1997 — in Hermantown.

The building at became home to the Duluth Detoxification Center on Aug. 20, 2001.

From a Sept. 27, 1998, News Tribune story:

Kolar leaving Superior Street auto dealer to move business to its Hermantown location

By Kate Warkentin Bramson
News Tribune staff writer

In what Kolar Auto World’s co-owner Peter Kolar calls "strictly a demographic decision," the Duluth car dealership will move from its East Superior Street location to Hermantown.

The Nov. 1 relocation is in line with what major automobile manufacturers want their dealerships nationwide to do — locate in the main retail hub areas of their communities. And locally, Kolar joins the ranks of several auto dealerships that have opened or relocated in recent years along the Miller Hill corridor.

A regional economic development specialist says the car dealership’s move is indicative of the pressures Detroit auto manufacturers are putting on their dealers.

"Detroit is saying, ‘We want high visibility,’ " said Jim Wrobleski, the northeast regional representative to the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development.


Flames rage above the showroom on the Superior Street side of Kolar Buick as part of the roof has collapsed on a car. (Jack Rendulich / News Tribune)



Duluth firefighters Dave Ostazeski (left) and Ernie Butler take a break from fighting the blaze. (Jack Rendulich / News Tribune)



Kolar Buick Toyota salesman Tom Bruce (left) walks between a new and charred Toyota van at the new-car lot by the burned-out building Thursday, July 19, 1984. (Jon Rott / News Tribune)

The new van on the left is almost exactly like the one my parents purchased in early 1985 from that dealership. I remember going with them to pick it out. Former UMD hockey great Keith "Huffer" Christiansen sold it to us — one of my oldest memories. I was 3.

Video Vision, 1983

Nov. 23, 1983


Here’s a photo from outside Video Vision at 122 West First Street in Duluth. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

In 1983, Video Vision occupied the space at 122 W. First St. in Duluth. The photo was shot on a Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The building is currently home to Anchors End Tattoo & Body.

The poster on the bottom of the middle window is for a movie called "Lone Wolf McQuade," starring martial arts legend and pop-culture phenomenon Chuck Norris as J.J. McQuade, who, as ones writer on the Internet Movie Database Web site describes, is "an archetypical renegade Texas Ranger [who] wages war against a drug kingpin [David Carradine] with automatic weapons, his wits and martial arts after a gun battle leaves his partner dead. All of this inevitably culminates [in] a martial arts showdown between the drug lord and the ranger, and involving the woman they both love."

There’s no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends than with turkey, football and a Chuck Norris movie. After this year’s dinner and inevitable Detroit Lions loss, it’s straight to the "Delta Force" VHS tape for me.


A poster for the movie "Breathless," starring Richard Gere, sits above the Norris poster. At right is a poster for "Blue Thunder," starring the late Roy Scheider of "JAWS" fame.



Behind the Video Vision sign, the faded letters "MU" can be seen on the left. The "122" of the street address also is visible. Does anyone know what business with the faded sign used to occupy this building before 1983? Did the "M" and partial "U" stand for "MUSIC"?


This place either sold Playboy magazines, rented Playboy videos or both.