This is to say that I was very sad to see the closing of the old place. I liked the original Red's Savoy for many reasons, and the pizza wasn't even one of them!
Walking into Red’s, which was founded in the mid-1960s, does feel like what I imagine the 70s to have been, all weird color palettes and urban dystopian vibe. I’m sure the pizza hasn’t changed much, either, nor have the sometimes-questionable bar conversations about East Side crime or the struggling economy.It turns out, I was right. The pizza, and indeed the entire situation at the OG Red's Savoy, was synonymous with Red himself. (The place even had a
Here's the Pioneer Press report:
I suppose the 1970s had to come to an end someday, but I wish it hadn't.*
Here are some excerpts. From the City Pages:
What's this nation coming to when the unbridled passions of an 81-year-old man are scorned and not celebrated? St. Paul Police were called to Red's Savoy Inn and Pizza on East Seventh Street last July to find Norman B. Coleman Sr., the father of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, canoodling with 38-year-old Patrizia M. Schrag in the parking lot. Coleman Sr. received a citation when he deserved a medal of valor. Dig, if you will, the picture: A lady by his side, the smell of oregano and pepperoni on the warm summer wind, the hum of the nearby traffic racing—quite a romantic moment for the senior senator's senior. Then came the tsk-tsking, the pearl-clutching, the head-shaking by the muckety-mucks. Coleman's own son practically labeled him a degenerate when he mourned, "He clearly has some issues that need to be dealt with, and I will encourage him to seek the necessary help." Coming soon: the Norm Coleman Sexual Rehabilitation Center and Shaming Annex. We suggest a commemorative plaque outside the pizzeria instead.And from the Pioneer Press:
St. Paul police cited the 81-year-old father of Sen. Norm Coleman and a female companion after officers reported seeing them engaged in a sex act in the parking lot of a popular pizzeria.A person passing Red Savoy's Pizza at 421 E. Seventh St. called police about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and said two people were "having sex in a vehicle," a police report said.(snip)
...Beverly Coleman, the elder Coleman's wife and the senator's mother, said she was shocked to learn of the citation."I can't believe that is true," said Beverly Coleman, who lives in New Jersey.Her husband has emphysema, she said, and suffers from symptoms that could be the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.
Well it was true. There was something about Red's Savoy that was mana from heaven for old right-wing Saint Paul. I wish that plaque had been erected. [sic]
The third and greatest reason Red's was important, though, was that it was the last bastion of the old neighborhood that used to connect Lowertown to Railroad Island and the East side. Back in the early 20th century, there used to be a whole industrial area of the city, a mix of industry and warehouses and bars, that was erased in favor of freeways and parking lots during the 1960s.
Red's represented the last stand of the old neighborhood.
Here's what I wrote about it a few years ago, after another story about cars crashing into the sides of historic buildings.
In Saint Paul, Red’s Savoy Inn offers the extreme case. Red’s Savoy is an old school Italian bar and restaurant, chock full of character. It’s also an island in sea of freeway interchanges, nearly the last remnant of an old industrial neighborhood that was folded into the old rail yards that used to dominate the east end of downtown Saint Paul.
During the 1960s, almost all of the neighborhood was torn down as three freeways were rammed through the neighborhood (Interstate 35E, 94, and US Highway 52 all come together here). As locals are fond of pointing out, because of one badly designed on-ramp, so many cars have gone through the front of the building that they built a permanent concrete barrier on the sidewalk.
That Red’s Savoy is still standing is a testament to resilience, not just to the economic tides, but to the literal violence of cars smashing upon its bricks like waves. Saint Paul’s Gibraltar.
Well, I guess time, erosion, and automobiles will always win in the end. Not even Gibraltar will stand forever. (Take note, Prudential Insurance!)
Rest In Pieces, Red's Savoy Inn. You were a symbol of obstinacy, for better and for worse. Saint Paul is a lesser place without you.
No, this is / was a simple scam.
Update: In what Tad Vezner calls "cruel and unusual punishment," Coleman Sr. was banned from Red's for a year after the incident!