WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 15, 2011, 06:31 PM

East Grand Forks' Whitey's Cafe Sold at Auction

The historic but recently-closed Whitey's Cafe sold Sunday at an auction for the reserve price of $650,000.

By: WDAZ Staff Report, WDAZ

The auction was closed to non-bidders and reporters, but it lasted only minutes, according to Dennis Blackmun, an owner of Joe Black's and who was at the auction.

Scheduled for 4 p.m., a handful of bidders took part in the auction. Because it was closed to the public, the winning bidder isn't yet known.

Former owner Greg Stennes told the Grand Forks Herald that the owner is "from the area" and interested in "carrying the flag," as in keeping Whitey's tradition and name.

The eatery closed in February after about 85 years as an East Grand Forks landmark.

In June 2010, the restaurant changed hands. Stennes sold to Dave Norman and a group of investors. Leading up to the sale in February this year, hours were cut back and the menu was changed.

Chicago gangsters and Hollywood legend Clark Gable are said to be among the early visitors at Whitey's, which subsisted through a fire in the 1940s and the 1997 flood, but closed after the new owners said they couldn't make a go of it.

Norman said a competitive marketplace hampered efforts to revive the restaurant, established by Edwin "Whitey" Larson at its current location in 1930.

Once known as Whitey's Wonderbar for its stainless steel horseshoe bar, the legendary restaurant was featured in Time magazine and the Saturday Evening Post for its art deco style. The name was later changed by the new owners to Whitey's Steaks and Seafood.

Some information from the Associated Press