Uptown fixture Williams Pub closes doors for good

Showing off his jacket from Williams Uptown Pub and Peanut Bar, Keven Laukkonen wears his love for his former place of employment on his sleeve.

So it's difficult for him to hear the Uptown staple has had its final last call.

"Sad. It's been around for so long. You always thought these places would come and go in Uptown, but Williams would always be there because it had been there for so long," said Laukkonen, the General Manager at Williams in the late 90s.

Since the 1970s, the watering hole had been a fixture in Uptown, known for its peanut bar in the basement, poolroom on the main floor, and occasional nightclub on the second floor.

Laukkonen says the bar was even featured in a trade magazine in the 90s for the then novel idea of offering 80 beers on tap and more than 300 bottled beers from around the world.

"It was fun. It was the place to be at that time. Thursday nights were lines out the door," said Laukkonen.

Williams is the latest closure in an area hit hard by the pandemic and concerns about crime following the murder of George Floyd.

Earlier this year, the bar closed temporarily after a shooting left one person injured and smashed a front window.

But a sign on the door now says the popular hotspot has closed for good.

"The fun thing about Williams Pub. It re-emerged every decade. It was the place. It would fall out of favor and then everyone would come back. It's just an institution that is so hard to replace, said

Howard Walstein, a fill-in DJ at Williams in the early 80s.

Laukkonen says Williams will be remembered for its decades-long run as a gathering place that brought world-class good times to generations of bargoers in the Twin Cities.

"The legacy is that it was a good, fun, safe place to go for many, many years," said Laukkonen.