Tilt Pinball Bar Scoops Up Liquor Lyle’s in $700K Deal
The building that once housed iconic Minneapolis watering hole Liquor Lyle’s will be reborn as a pinball bar.
On Friday, the owners of Tilt Pinball Bar closed on a deal to buy Liquor Lyle’s for $700,000. They’re making the purchase at a fairly substantial discount: In late 2021, Liquor Lyle’s hit the market with a $1 million price tag, Racket reported at the time.
Carrie McCabe-Johnston, co-founder and chef at Tilt operator Bonafide Hospitality, said that the timing was right to move the pinball bar from its current location in the Whittier neighborhood. Tilt has been operating from a rented space at 113 East 26th Street since it opened in 2017.
“We have always wanted to be our own landlords in order to build equity in real estate,” McCabe-Johnston said in an email to TCB. “With our lease coming to the end of its five-year term, we knew it was time for a larger space — our level of business indicated so. We had been causally looking when the Lyle’s space was brought to our attention.”
The new owner of Liquor Lyle’s is an entity known simply as “2021 Hennepin Ave. Holdings,” which is composed of Tilt’s ownership. The name is a reference to Liquor Lyle’s address.
When Tilt reopens, it will operate under a new name: Litt, an anagram of its original name. “Legal reasons forced the name change,” McCabe-Johnston said.
In an Instagram post shared widely on Monday morning, Tilt’s owners promised a new location with more pinball machines, more bar seating, more spaces to hang out, and more menu items. The new location also will have a few dozen parking spots in the back of the building. Tilt’s current location only has street parking.
McCabe-Johnston acknowledged that the pinball bar has some big shoes to fill at the Liquor Lyle’s property. “Liquor Lyle’s is an iconic location in Minneapolis with a lot of history,” she said. “It’s humbling to have the opportunity to revitalize the building and bring back some of the glory. Being stewards of these historic bars is of importance to us.”
Real estate broker Jeff Salzbrun, who’s helped close a number of niche purchases in the Twin Cities over the years, represented the sellers in the transaction. Prior sales that Salzburn facilitated include Whitey’s Old Town Saloon in Northeast Minneapolis and Sex World in downtown Minneapolis.
Though it’s a beloved local institution, the Liquor Lyle’s property wasn’t exactly an easy sale. The property hasn’t been updated since the 1970s. Plus, several business owners had been spooked by plans for a major overhaul of Hennepin Avenue. Salzbrun said that project likely “pushed a lot of buyers away.”
In June, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey vetoed portions of the plan that would have reduced Hennepin Avenue to one lane in each direction. Some Minneapolis City Council members pledged to override his veto but failed to secure enough votes to do so, according to the Star Tribune.
In 2015, TCB published an oral history of Liquor Lyle’s based on interviews with the bar’s ownership.