Matt Lokowich. Photo by Tom Wallace.
What, they don’t have bulldogs in Louisiana? When Matt Lokowich, the owner of the Bulldog Uptown and Bulldog Lowertown, decided he was going to open another bar, he knew he wanted to keep the new place in the family. But with this venture being a Cajun-style bar, he thought a slight tweak to the Bulldog name was in order. Thus: The Bullfrog.
On Wednesday, Lokowich gave me a sneak peek at the Bullfrog, which will be located in the former Gladius space (1111 Hennepin Av.) in downtown Minneapolis. Gladius was a short-lived gay bar that mixed “New York-chic” design with Roman flourishes. It closed in late December. While its half-nude gladiator was still plastered on the window this week, Lokowich’s team was busy at work inside, preparing the joint for an anticipated March 1 opening.
“It’s going to be gangbusters in here until we open,” Lokowich said.
Lokowich is opening the Bullfrog with his Lowertown partner, Jeff Caster. While that bar specializes in mostly Belgian beers, the duo will go in a different direction here. The Bullfrog’s 24 taps will mostly feature pilsners and lagers from around the world.
“It’s going to have a weird beer twist, but who cares,” Lokowich said.
Lokowich said these beers have a smoother taste, which will go better with the bar’s Cajun menu. The chef, Tim Favre (no relation to Brett, and he pronounces it differently), will serve crawdads, po’boys, gumbo, lobster bakes and other New Orleans delicacies. They’ll even have alligator and frog legs on the menu. If that scares you, don’t worry: A few of the Bulldog’s burgers will be on the menu, too. Price points will be comparable to the Lowertown location.
The space, located on the outskirts of downtown (near Eli’s), is about half the size of the Bulldog Lowertown. Lokowich plans to keep some of Gladius’ design elements, including the black granite-top bar and the Roman-style brick arches that extend over the booths. But for the most part, Lokowich will stamp out Gladius’ sleekness and replace it with a rustic, amber-hued ambiance. He’ll cover the walls in wood, hang old light fixtures and wants to add more windows.
While parking is always questionable around this part of downtown, Lokowich anticipates a lot of Twins traffic during the baseball season (which means he’ll be bringing in a lot of TVs too). He’s also hoping for some foot-traffic from the Hennepin theater crowd. Whatever the case, the place should be hard to miss with a name like Bullfrog.
“A lot of these restaurants have fancy names, but we just want to be a great bar with great food,” Lokowich said.