Porky’s on Friday, March 31, 2011, two days before the restaurant closed. Note the line of people awaiting a the chance to get a last burger.March 11, 2012

Merriam Park, Hamline-Midway

8.7 miles

Porky’s, the iconic University Avenue drive in closed and was demolished last year.  Today’s bike ride took me to the hallowed ground.  Details to follow, but first…

Another unbelievable March day when I jumped on the bike, this time headed almost due north on Prior Avenue to the Merriam Park and Lexington-Hamline neighborhoods.  Prior Avenue in Macalester-Groveland is primarily residential with a few small businesses and houses of worship.

Pilgrim Lutheran Church, on the corner of Prior Avenue and St. Clair in Macalester-Groveland.
Widmer’s Market, Prior and St. Clair, a friendly neighborhood store with a great butcher shop.
Prior Avenue is home to several churches of different denominations and sizes. The Apostolic Church, Minnesota Assembly, 510 North Prior, is one of the smaller…
…and The Living Word Church and World Outreach Ministries, is one of the larger, located inside this warehouse at 640 Prior Avenue North.

Mac-Groveland becomes Merriam Park at Summit Avenue and after a few more blocks of homes, Prior becomes almost exclusively light industrial with a smattering of small businesses.

I left Prior just north of I-94 and turned east onto Feronia, which curved north and became East Lynnhurst Avenue.  What’s important about this spot is that it contains the remains of the renowned Porky’s Drive-In, a prime hangout and center of University Avenue cruising for some 50 years.  Porky’s was sold to Presbyterian Homes, closed in April of 2011, and knocked down, ultimately done in by light rail construction.  Porky’s is missed by at least two generations including my family and me.

The red floor tile of Porky’s is still visible. This shot is looking north toward University Avenue.
Porky’s maroon retaining wall remains for the time being. The back wall of the restaurant stood on the other side of the wall.
Iris Park, tucked between East and West Lynnhurst Avenues and University Avenue. Note the snow in the foreground.

A few yards from where Porky’s stood is Iris Park, a haven from the traffic and noise of University Avenue.  The park didn’t look its best on this March day with bare trees and the pond the resting spot for debris that accumulated over the winter. But better times are ahead.

I ran into Seth, an Edina resident who works at Ramy Turf, in the 700 block of Prior Avenue. He is one of the multitudes missing Porky’s.  As we talked, he looked wistfully toward University Avenue and said, “ I took an old GTO out Friday and Saturday nights,

Seth and his dog, Jonnie, in the Ramy Turf parking lot on Prior Avenue. Seth’s favorite memories of the area are those of the extinct Porky’s drive in.

cruised University and went to Porky’s.  That was thing to do.  They had the best onion rings ever and the chocolate shakes were to die for.”

The northern-most mile or so of Prior Avenue includes more light industrial and business and at least one abandoned factory.

Part of this factory at 755 Prior Avenue was built in 1889 but what was manufactured here I was unable to uncover. Most recently it housed a division of Silgan Containers.
Some of the window panes at the former Silgan Manufacturing plant create an artistic pattern.

One other building of note is a rather nondescript structure of brick and siding that conceals the hum of activity inside the Celtic Junction.  Happenings include Irish dance classes, live Irish and Scottish music and Gaelic Language, Literature and Studies.

The Celtic Junction, home of Irish culture of all types, is at 836 Prior Avenue North.

Slightly more than a block north of The Celtic Junction marks the end of Prior Avenue.

Prior Avenue, left, ends at Pierce Butler Route.

From there I went west on Pierce Butler Route which quickly turned south, became  Transfer Road and then, at University Avenue, Cleveland Avenue.  A graying, threatening sky and hunger pangs prodded me to get home directly and to come back another day to fully experience Cleveland and Transfer.

March 11, 2012 route
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