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Al Nelson exits the Green Door

After nearly three decades at Beaver Bay’s Green Door, Al Nelson is retiring. A retirement party will be held there, May 30, with buffet at 5 p.m. and music at 9 p.m. Photo by Ken Vogel.

Ken Vogel

On May 30, Green Door manager Al Nelson will be trading in his bar towel for a golf towel. Nelson has worked for the City of Beaver Bay since June 1, 1987. After 27 years of service, officials say that Nelson may be the first person to retire from city employment.

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In 1982, the industry was struggling and Al left his job with Reserve Mining. He worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation out of Illgen City from 1984-90, while also working part time at the Green Door.

“I’ll never forget my first night at the Green Door. I was told it should be a quiet evening but apparently the manager forgot about the wedding party. “Nelson recalled being all alone with a large group of thirsty customers. “It was something else,” he said, “suddenly there was all these people ordering all kinds of drinks.”

Similar to the mining industry Nelson said the Green Door has seen its share of ups and downs.

“There have been good years and some not so good,” he said, but he credits the City of Beaver Bay for the survival of the local watering hole during hard times. “Last year the city did an extensive remodel of the bar; it really brightened up the place and gave it a new look.” Nelson said successfully establishing a liquor commission also had a positive impact.

“They have been a big help. They make recommendations to the city council about things like remodeling and entertainment,” he said.

Throughout his tenure, Nelson’s warmth and friendly personality have earned him quite a following.

“He has made friends from Canada to Wisconsin; I just can’t imagine the place without him there,” Barb Sterett of the Beaver Bay Liquor Commission said. Liquor commission chair Steve Nazian echoed her sentiments.

“We will miss him greatly, not just for his contribution to the city but, for being an ambassador, he said, people travel long distances just to stop in and talk to him; it’s just incredible.”

After this month and nearly three decades of slinging sauce, Nelson says the shots will now be on the fairways and the bars will be sand bars.

“I plan to spend a lot of time at my place in Gordon (Wisconsin.) “There is a lot of golf to play and many fish to catch.”

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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