A format change for Mayo Clinic Square
Old Town Pour House, the restaurant/bar slated to go into Mayo Clinic Square — the downtown Minneapolis complex formerly known as Block E — isn’t happening.
Instead, Chicago-based Bottleneck Management Restaurant Group, which operates five restaurant concepts in Chicago and suburban Washington, D.C. (including three Old Town Pour House outlets), has a new proposal for the space (formerly GameWorks) at 7th Street and Hennepin Avenue.
The name: City Works. “ ‘The city that works’ is the tagline of the city of Chicago,” said Bottleneck CEO Chris Bisaillon. “And it’s a little bit of a play on how everyone has to work together to make a restaurant work.”
The change is driven in part by semantics. “In our Old Town Pour House format, the first thing that people hear is ‘bar,’ ” Bisaillon said. “When we talked to our clientele, we learned that they want a place for a business lunch, for happy hour, for dinner, and we felt that this new concept was more appropriate.”
The high-energy space will be dominated by what he describes as an “extremely extensive AV program,” including three 110-inch quad screens and nearly two dozen 65-inch TV screens, all streaming commercial-free content from a video DJ.
But he isn’t a fan of the term “sports bar.”
“People enjoy watching events, but why can’t they have great food?” he said. “Instead of wings and cheese sticks and nachos, why can’t you have a bone-in pork chop or risotto?”
Which is why he is promising “American contemporary” fare, prepared from scratch. “We won’t be opening bottles and cans and bags,” he said.
The bar will tap 120 beers (“25 percent will focus on local brews,” Bisaillon said) and feature eight wines on tap (“in our Chicagoland locations, 90 percent of wines sold by the glass come from draft wines”) and a premium cocktail program.
Fourteen-year-old Bottleneck, which primarily focuses on urban locations — its sprawling Howells & Hood is located in Chicago’s landmark Tribune Tower on N. Michigan Avenue — first considered but ultimately rejected Block E several years ago. The complex’s recent remake into Mayo Clinic Square brought the company back for a second look.
“Block E didn’t know what it wanted to be — it was a mishmash,” Bisaillon said. “The current ownership is very clear about what it wants and the people they want to attract. There are just so many positive qualities to this location.”
Opening date? Early March 2016, in time for St. Patrick’s Day and college basketball’s March Madness.
Coffee on Fire
Local coffeehouse chains — Spyhouse Coffee and Peace Coffee are two prime examples — are capitalizing on the allure of distinctive settings. Perhaps the most idiosyncratic — and fascinating — is coming from Dogwood Coffee Co. (dogwoodcoffee.com).
For his third outlet (825 Carleton St., St. Paul), set to open Nov. 1, Dogwood owner Dan Anderson is partnering with Studio on Fire to craft a venue that will give Dogwood customers views of the letterpress printer’s 18 presses.
The building, a 1940s truck mechanic’s garage and a block from the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue station, is located in a changing industrial neighborhood. An adjacent structure is targeted for replacement with a 75-unit apartment building.
The coffeehouse will include a first: a gallery and retail shop to showcase Studio on Fire owner Ben Levitz’s work.
“What Ben does is so amazing,” said Anderson. “We want to show people how it’s done.”