Part 5: The Jazzed-Up Legacy of Lefty: From Liquor Runs to Legendary Bars in Small Town Arkansas

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Table of Contents

1922: Magnolia, Arkansas

After winning the hotel from Manny, Lefty had to finish his liquor run for Dean.  No one left a job half done for Dean O’Banion. His dealings in New Orleans complete, Lefty relocated to south Arkansas.  He was still working for O’Banion, because no one just walked out on that life.  While in Louisiana on a later liquor run, Lefty bought a trumpet for Manny as a peace offering. He wanted no hard feelings and more importantly he wanted to keep Stella close. 

Manny lost his original trumpet from his days in the Spanish American war in yet another drunken card game.  Manny appreciated Lefty’s gesture, but wanted “his” trumpet.  Lefty tracked down the winner and “convinced” him to trade.  Since Lefty had no intentions of returning the hotel, regaining the trumpet was the least he felt he could do. That very same trumpet can be seen on display in Christy’s upstairs office today.

By 1922, Lefty had mostly finished the remodel of the old Johnson Hotel and added a private club, The 333 (a nod to his hotel winning hand) with an entrance on Jefferson Street.  Stella had been running the hotel for a hefty profit before Lefty won it and continued to do so after. They had similar interests (alcohol and money) and spent the majority of their time together, so it was only natural that Stella and Lefty became an item.  The local fellas that had had an eye on Stella decided to look the other way to keep from getting a black eye or worse.

The 333 Club

There was a big city feel at The 333.  Lefty had brought the Chicago vibe to small town Arkansas, complete with paying the local law to look the other way concerning the sale of alcohol.  In 1923 with Prohibition in full swing, he couldn’t hire a bar built so he bought one from a shuttered bar from his old Northside Chicago neighborhood and had it shipped down river to Camden; under cover of night wagons brought it to Magnolia and carpenters reassembled piece by piece.  It stood the test of time and is the one featured in the restaurant today. The mirrors behind the bar didn’t make it through the 1932 raid and had to be replaced with new ones. 

The same is said for the front bar – it was a victim of a bar fight in the late 40’s. Burt (current co-owner) built the front of the bar in a style similar to the original.  They also added the work of art that is the bar top.  Called “Inter-Stella” it consists of 500 pounds of fire rock laid in a free-flowing pattern and backlit with 2000 fiber optic cables.  The best view of the bar can be had from the balcony from Lefty’s old office.

Upscale speakeasy bar

Modern Day Bar at Lefty’s, Magnolia AR

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