Jim Jennings, MLBA Hospy Hall of Fame Member, a Minnesota retailing legend and the father of current MLBA Board Member Mike Jennings, passed away last night. He was 96.
Jennings grew up in Minneapolis. After attending the University of Minnesota and playing football there, he was drafted into the Army in 1942 and went on to serve in World War II. Jennings’ father opened a liquor store at 4608 Excelsior Boulevard in 1946, which he operated until he passed away in 1951. Jennings’ mother, Harriet, continued to run the store until Jim purchased it from her in the early 1960s. Over time, Jennings grew it from a modest business into one of the busiest stores in the suburbs.
In 1963, Jennings opened Red Coach Inn in St. Louis Park, building his business one customer at a time, the Red Coach Inn became a western suburb landmark. In 1971, Jennings took part of the liquor store space and opened a casual bar and grill called Timothy O’Toole’s Pub. Then, in 1987, he decided to move the liquor store to a building just to the east of the original location and opened Gipper’s All-American Sports Bar and Grill. When the city of St. Louis Park built the Excelsior & Grand development, Jennings was forced to close and sell all four of his establishments on Excelsior Boulevard in 1999. Jennings had two other restaurants—Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Minnetonka, and JJ’s Clubhouse in Golden Valley—to rely on. Jennings Liquors re-located across from the Red Coach Inn and was there until it closed in 2018.
Jim’s son, Mike, has attributed his business knowledge to his father, and continues to operate Scoreboard and Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar in Minnetonka and JJ’s Clubhouse in Golden Valley.
Funeral arrangements will be posted here when available.