MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Family members say that the original owner of Matt’s Bar passed away mere hours before President Barack Obama’s visit to the long-standing Minneapolis establishment.
According to family, Matt Bristol died Thursday morning. He reportedly did not know that Obama would be visiting the Cedar Avenue restaurant.
Family members said that Bristol, who was born in 1925, was diagnosed with lung cancer nine months ago, and had only been given four to six months to live.
Matt’s Bar was Obama’s first major stop after he touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The restaurant is known for its Jucy Lucy burgers with cheese melted inside of the patties.
Matt’s Bar is locked in a contentious battle with the 5-8 Club, which is also along Cedar Avenue and is also known for its Juicy Lucy sandwiches. (Note the difference in spelling. Matt’s has said in the past if the sandwich is spelled right, it’s the wrong burger.)
Obama went around the room to shake people’s hands, CNN reported. He then sat in a booth with Rebekah Erler, who wrote a letter to the president last March. To her surprise, he responded in person.
The White House pool reporter’s account of Matt’s Bar was as follows: “Matt’s is small and crowded, even without the addition of POTUS and the pool. … The smell of grease hung in the air — in a delicious way.”
Following the lunch, Obama headed east to Minnehaha Park for a town hall meeting. He will be appearing at a private fundraising dinner Thursday evening and will also speak at the Harriet Bandshell Friday morning.