Tasha Tamm, St. Joseph
Seventy years ago, Claude and Marian Menzhuber decided to start a life in St. Joseph, so they bought a bar, naming it the El Paso Club. The building became their home, and their customers became their family. Quickly, their weeks turned into years, and with daughter Carole by their side, she took over as the next generation to run the business. With the help of her husband, Denny Tamm, and daughters, Carole and her staff met wonderful people and developed many life-long friendships. Carole has now decided to retire in order to spend more time with family and friends. “Life is too short,” she said. “I’m ready. This is it.”
The bar business originally began as a dream for Claude Menzhuber. At the ripe age of 17, he worked for Brauch and Uberecken, a bar on Saint Germain Street in downtown St. Cloud. Claude worked stocking coolers, sweeping floors, selling five-cent roast-beef sandwiches and malts. When he turned 19, he began bartending, serving 10-cent taps. In October of 1945, Claude was recruited by the U.S. military, serving in WWII with tours in Morocco, Germany, Italy and France.
When the war ceased, the newly returned soldier married his fiancee, Marian, with a plan to move to California. The day before their move, Claude surprised Marian with the revelation he had bought a bar. Taking $25,000, he purchased Leo’s Bar, which was located a block away from the current El Paso Club. A mere 17 days later, the bar burned down due to an electrical fire. However, with hard work and perseverance, the bar was reopened six months later. In 1960, Menzhuber built a new bar at the present location, complete with six bowling lanes.
The current menu was finalized in 1966. Catering for weddings became a new venture for Claude and Marian. They added a banquet hall to the property in 1978, with additional renovations continuing through 1990. The vaulted area known as the Cedar Room and two sand volleyball courts were added. Within a few years, summer volleyball leagues had been formed.
A patio was added in 2006, allowing customers to enjoy pleasant weather conditions. The menu remains the bar’s greatest asset, serving favorites such as burgers, wraps and pizzas.
Seventy years has brought many generations of customers, births, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and tough losses. Some familiar faces – namely Martin Landau, Bobby Vee and Mean Gene Okerlund – have stopped by throughout the years.
The owners and staff of the El Paso Club would like to extend their thanks to their dedicated workers and organizations such as the St. Joseph Lions Club, the Waite Park Lions, the Sno Joes and Stride Academy for hosting annual fish fries. El Paso would also like to extend thanks to Godfather’s Extermination, Donlar Construction, Manion’s Wholesale, St. Joseph Meat Market and the St. Joseph police and fire departments. Most importantly, a big thank you to all the customers who have supported the club who have become friends throughout the years.
Like Claude would always say, “Hey, are you leaving? Say, we’ll see ya!”