The year was 1855-the United States sold 91.2 acres to Samuel Davis for $114. Lions Tap would eventually stand on a piece of this land.
Severin and Mary Peterson bought 49 acres of the property in 1920 for farming purposes. The property was also leased out to W. T. Price, who established the Upper Grass Lake Gun Club. In 1926, a highway easement was granted for trunk highway No. 5 - also known as the Shakopee-Eden Prairie Road and presently known as U.S. Highway 212. The highway brought more people out to the country and created opportunities for the country folks.
In 1933, Severin II and Ernest Peterson, the sons of Severin and Mary Peterson, decided that a good way to market their farm vegetables would be to build a vegetable stand. They had Mike and Inga Larson run the stand for them. The Petersons sold their farm products along with fruits and vegetables from the Minneapolis Market.
Shortly thereafter, the Larsons started pouring beer at the little roadside stand. This soon became a friendly little neighborhood bar. Because the beer brought in more people from the surrounding area, the Larsons decided to sell gas as an added convenience for their customers.
In 1938, Mary Peterson sold the Peterson Brothers Market to Severin II and Doris Peterson. They then sold to John and Mattie Buckingham. The place was becoming increasingly popular as a favorite little hideaway. The Buckinghams discontinued the vegetable stand to focus on the bar business and made their home on the premises. They added Bootlegged whiskey and slot machines, which attracted more customers. The service didn't hurt, either-Mattie Buckingham was an attraction in herself. The sweet lady was loved by everyone in the area.
In 1950, Mattie Buckingham sold the business to Leonard P. and Helena Schaefer. Helena Schaefer was also a great attraction and was given the name "Ma Schaefer." Business was so good that they took the gas pump out so they could concentrate on selling beer. The Schaefers introduced the popular Stewart Sandwiches (now known as Deli Express). Even in those days, everyone heard about Ma Schaefer. Will Jones wrote a story in the Minneapolis paper about the friendly little place. It was 1958 when Ma Schaefer sold the bar to her niece Irene Lyons and husband Sears Lyons. Irene Lyons was nicknamed "Ma Jr.". This new ownership was the start of the famous hamburger.
Irene introduced the hamburgers shortly after buying the bar. The hamburgers were made in an electric frying pan, which could handle four burgers at a time. They sold for $.25 each, regardless of whether they were a California, Cheeseburger or plain Hamburger. Business was going so well that they bought a new grill which could produce eight hamburgers at one time. Sears introduced tap beer, which became very popular. Beer was a whole $.05 a glass. Hamm's and Grain Belt were the top-sellers. Beer was flowing so substantially that they had to build a walk-in cooler and expand their seating. This little roadhouse built into the bluffs of the beautiful Minnesota River Valley occasionally had bands and dancing as an added attraction.
The Lyons sold the business in 1974 to Lloyd Berg. Lloyd started serving the popular french fries. The city officials would not grant Lloyd Berg a license so his brother, Vern Berg, bought the Tap six months later. Vern and his wife Marlene remodeled the kitchen to expand the hamburger business.They owned it for three years before selling to Don and June Gilbert. The Gilberts owned it for a few months and then sold the restaurant to Bert and Bonnie Notermann in November of 1977. Upon taking over the operation, the Notermanns changed the name to Lions Tap. The new name was used to build around the existing lion logo.
Bert and Bonnie Notermann brought in their own process for making the quarter pounders. Fresh ground beef individually patted daily and their own "secret seasoning" are two of the reasons for the hamburger's famous reputation. The buns are also given special care; heated and slightly toasted on the grill. Fresh produce, quality cheese, bacon and onions are available to top off any burger and make it truly outstanding.
In 1980 a new, modern walk-in cooler was added and the renovation of the old storage room provided seating for 40 more patrons. New equipment and fixtures were also included in this renovation. The parking lot was black topped in 1981. Since most of the parking had been on County Rd. 4, the Notermanns purchased 10 additional acres in 1982 for a new parking lot to alleviate any safety problems due to on street parking.
In 1983 the 50-year Anniversary of Lions Tap and its past history was celebrated. Sports celebrities, hot air balloon rides, clowns and drawings for trip giveaways were all part of the event. This year marked 25 years since the introduction of the famous hamburger at this Eden Prairie landmark.
Beginning in 1984, plans were made for the complete renovation of the building and a new addition for an additional seating capacity of 80 more guests. The full renovation was completed in 1985. The $450,000 project included expanded seating, a new 40-car parking lot north of the building and a new kitchen area. Throughout the construction period, Lions Tap remained open with little inconvenience to their burger-loving customers.
Word of mouth has certainly helped promote Lions Tap business, but the Notermanns believe in advertising. You can find Lions Tap ads and billboards all over the Midwest. You will encounter someone wearing Lions Tap merchandise where you'd least expect it - from Mexico to small-town USA. Over the years Lions Tap has won just about every award out there for Best Hamburger in the Twin Cities area. Lions Tap has also been named one of the top 500 restaurants in the country!
The Notermanns also believe in giving back to their community. Lions Tap sponsors a large number of youth and adult athletic teams throughout the surrounding communities. They are the #1 Sports Booster in the area schools and support hundreds of other organizations and events throughout the state.
There is no typical Lions Tap customer. From suits to overalls, you'll find all types sitting down with their family, friends or co-workers to enjoy the famous hamburgers. The Notermanns have strived to make and maintain an atmosphere that welcomes all walks of life.
Providing quality food and economical prices - fast, friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere with clean surroundings, Lions Tap continues to succeed in their goal to satisfy the burger connoisseur. We are dedicated to excellence.