Crowds turn out to bid farewell to Lakeville VFW club
|By Frederick Melo, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The bittersweet exception arrived Saturday night, when dozens of well-wishers crowded
The building, which opened in
In the varied words of bar patrons, Lakeville's oldest dive bar fell victim to changing national demographics, rising property taxes, the harried reality of working families or a lack of karaoke.
"The bar and the club are really designed to make a profit, to give to the post, to give to worthy causes," he said. "It's been a long time since it's done that -- at least 10 years."
A new owner has spoken of converting the site into a restaurant or community center. A sale closing is scheduled for
Sitting on her boyfriend's lap by the crowded bar,
"It was the best place to eat, the best food. And everything was good," said Gephart, motioning with hands that betrayed a few wrinkles. "It's very sad, because at my age, the whole town is changing, and nothing is the same anymore."
The post itself dates back to 1919 and maintains 273 dues-paying members, down from a high of about 425 in the 1980s, VFW officer
Members will continue to convene at the city-owned Lakeville Heritage Center, along with other nonprofits, but without the financial challenge of keeping the bar afloat. The post donated
"Our scholarships will be bigger and better next year," Pronschinske said. "We'll have money, because we didn't wait until we were upside down. We'll walk away with a fair amount of equity."
On Saturday, some patrons wondered if more couldn't have been done to attract the younger set and keep the bar alive.
He doubted the 20-somethings returning from
Pronschinske said Lakeville has kept residential property taxes relatively low by increasing taxes on businesses. The bar paid
"Before I even turn on a light switch, I have to come up with
"Most people understand, but are sad," he said. "Of course, with some it's anger, not necessarily at me, but at the situation. The trick is to keep your post open, and keep your post alive. We need to stay on mission of helping veterans."
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