Even before the Fitgers bought the Lake Superior Brewery on E Superior Street in Duluth, the complex housed a simple taproom that served samples of beer. August Fitger and Percy Anneke bought the brewery in 1884 and then remodeled the taproom into the Old Brewery Saloon in 1888. The expansion of the saloon in 1894 added more room for customers and added custom German-inspired murals and ornately-carved woodwork to the room.
When the saloon moved out of the brewery in 1914 and into an adjacent building, much of the old-world decor accompanied it to the new building. The original murals and a lot of the old woodwork produced by Duluth’s skilled immigrant painters and carvers joined new hand-painted wallpaper and tapestries in the new Dutch Room. That same year, longtime saloon keeper, Joseph Wisocki, began leasing the business from Fitger’s. Then Prohibition began. Joe turned the saloon into a parlor serving “near-beer” called Pickwick along with German-inspired sandwiches. The business survived thanks to its hearty menu, lots of Pickwick, and larger-than-life personality of Joe.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, Joe served the first real beer since Duluth went dry in 1917 at 12:01 am on April 7. The tavern was filled beyond capacity as a reported 9,000 local men waited for their first five-cent stein of beer in over a decade. The tavern officially changed its name to Pickwick after Prohibition ended as a nod to the drink that saw many Duluthians through the dry years.
Joe Wisocki bought the business and the building on E Superior Street in 1945. The Wisocki family owned the Pickwick until 2010 when Tim and Amy Wright purchased it. The only significant change they made to the restaurant was knocking down a wall erected in the 1940s between the lounge and tavern. The wall allowed women into the lounge side of the Pickwick while the tavern side remained open to men only. (The law prohibiting women from drinking at hotels, restaurants, and clubs in Duluth was found to be unconstitutional in 1963).
Today, the Pickwick looks much the same as it did in 1917 and remains a staple in Duluth. Its new owners have vowed to reinstate its reputation as one of the top restaurants in Duluth among locals and visitors alike.
Pickwick’s Creamy Cole Slaw Recipe
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- 1 medium onion, ground
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 quart Miracle Whip®
- 4 heads cabbage, shredded
- 1 pound carrots, grated
- Mix together thoroughly the vinegar, onion, sugar, salt, and salad dressing.
- Toss with shredded cabbage and grated carrots. Keep refrigerated.