Willard's is believed to be the second-oldest bar in Saint Paul. A West End watering hole, The Spot, is the only place that is older. Willard's opened in 1908 as Kohl’s, which is what it was known as until 1970. Neighborhood lore has it that the bar had a soda fountain counter out front and a speakeasy in the back during the Prohibition era. (The bar's website notes that "We are pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on that by now!"
After 1970 the business went through ownership and name changes. In 1982 it was purchased by Tom Kaufman. He was known throughout Frogtown for taking in stray animals and changed the name from Quinn's to Willard's to honor a little dog he'd rescued. Willard the dog became the bar mascot.
The bar is described by some as the "front porch of Frogtown." Frogtown had many other small bars and bar/restaurants scattered throughout the community. Many people might remember the now-closed Family Inn, 561 Edmund Ave. Among the many other long-gone Frogtown establishments are the Albrecht Tavern, 449 Thomas Ave., the Char-Dale, 535 N. Dale St; the Frontier Tavern, 558 Edmund Ave..; Bob's Frogtown Tavern, 436 Lafond Ave.; the Red Feather Nite Club, 665 University Ave.and the Stahl House, 586 Rice St.