Frozen in Time: Howie’s Sports Bar and Grill [VIDEO]
ST. CLOUD - Located off of 9th Avenue North, Howie’s Sports Bar and Grill started in St. Cloud in 1986 and has become a favorite destination for area sports fans.
Howie Zimmer, owner of Howie's Sports Bar and Grill, has been in the restaurant and bar business since 1972, when he bought Graffiti Pizza in St. Joseph. Zimmer says it was a "complete accident" that he got into the restaurant business, wanting to do something different after his time in the Army and working in Chicago.
Zimmer has now been involved in the business for decades and says he's proud to offer a unique and friendly atmosphere in downtown St. Cloud.
"One time people were in here from California and they were just going crazy saying it was such a retro bar-it's fabulous," Zimmer says.
The building has been around for decades and started as a local horse stable, it also housed a restaurant supply house and pool hall in its early history. In 1980, Zimmer bought the building and it was known as the “Howie Zimmer’s 1929 Club” for about a year and a half. It offered traditional foods and old time music five to six times a week.
"Chicken dinners for I think $2.50 with all the trimmings-that went good until I raised it to 2.75, then they kind of backed off-they didn't like that extra quarter," Zimmer joked.
The building was renamed to Howie's Bar and Grill several years later. Zimmer says his greatest memories now are hearing success stories from his old employees.
"I like to have hard work stories come back to me, I've had people work [here] that are doctors, lawyers, farmers, veterinarians, and I can look back and say those are my successes-they learned from me and went on," Zimmer says.
Howie’s has evolved over the years to add more TV’s for sports fans. The building now has 18 TV's and a 108 inch big screen. Howie's also offers a shuttle bus to the St. Cloud State men’s hockey games and hosts an annual golf tournament with over 100 participants.
Zimmer says famous visitors have even dropped by to visit.
"We served Charlie Daniels and his band, I thought it would be fancier but it was six hamburger baskets and six cheeseburger baskets," Howie said while laughing.
Zimmer also owns Howie's Corner Bar and Grill in St. Stephen. He is also part-owner with his brothers Rudy and Mark of Clearwater Corners, Beck's Pub and Main Street Pub in Kimball.