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Building History: Winnie's Tavern


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's a landmark down by the dock. With trucks, trains and ships, there are plenty of hungry people. At lunchtime they head to Winnie’s tavern.

This isn't Winnie although a lot of people think she is. Jeannie Johnson has run the tavern for a 22 years. Johnson, like her mother Winnie Swanson, is close to the customers and works at the state port.

"I'm a checker with the International Longshoremen's union," Johnson said. "I check cargo on and off the ships or tell them what to put on, what to put off."

Johnson's mom worked hard all of her life.

"She worked at the shipyard. She was Rosie the riveter," Johnson said. "When she was pregnant with me, she was in the hole at the shipyard."

Swanson saw this opportunity in 1962.

"She bought the tavern and the trailer park, the whole block, and she proceeded to work herself into paying for it," Johnson said.

Swanson was a good business woman.

"And she watched her pennies," Johnson said. "She never gave anybody a beer, and if she got off and she came on the other side of the bar, you still had to buy her a beer, or she wouldn't talk to you for free."

But a new sign outside the tavern has some worried. Johnson says it's time to let someone else run the place.

"I would personally like to see somebody come in here and take it and run with it," she said.

Winnie's has been in her family for most of her life, and Johnson knows what she will miss.

"Oh, my customers and all my mother's customers," she said. "We've had some of the nicest. It's so sad. So many of our really good customers have gone."

Winnie's is at 1895 Burnett Blvd., and they'd love for you to stop in for a burger and visit a while.

If you know of a building with lots of history that you'd like to see featured, send Chris Phillips an e-mail at

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