Nightlife notebook: New beer bar has bold aspirations

  • Article by: TOM HORGEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 21, 2012 - 4:20 PM

New beer bar has bold aspirations

The signs in the former Panera Bread have been teasing northeast Minneapolis residents for months. What will open here? Now we know. New Bohemia is shooting for a September opening in this corner space across from Surdyk's. If all goes according to plan, co-owner Jeff Bornmann hopes to open more locations in the Twin Cities and then expand across the country. I guess it was only a matter of time before a group with deep pockets put their money behind the beer-bar trend (Bornmann's partners include Noel Bowman of the Las Vegas ice bar, Minus5).

"The sales of national beer brands have gone down while craft beer has gone up," Bornmann said. "It's become the new wine."

The bar will have 40 tap lines and 100 bottles. Bornmann admits to being a craft-beer novice, but the man curating New Bohemia's selection shouldn't be a stranger to any serious Twin Cities beer fan.

Enter Jason Alvey, owner of the acclaimed craft beer store the Four Firkins. Alvey is working with New Bohemia through his other business, Craft Beer Consulting, LLC. He said his goal is to fill the beer list with the best representatives from each stylistic category. He envisions a heavy emphasis on Minnesota and American craft mixed with the best Belgian and German brews. Alvey said Bohemia will employ the most beer-educated staff possible and top-of-the-line equipment.

"It's all about the beer experience," Alvey said.

The food menu will be fast-casual, focusing on sausages and fries, while the boho interior will feature long communal tables like a traditional beer hall.

Bornmann said part of his plan is to "modernize the beer hall." Customers will be given iPads to peruse the bar's extensive beer menu. With the touch of a finger they'll be able to search by flavor profile, beer style, etc.

Bornmann said craft-beer chains have worked in other parts of the country, noting Yard House on the West Coast and Flying Saucer in the South. He thinks Minneapolis is a great test market. Broker Andrea Christenson is already scouting future locations. I asked Bornmann if he thinks local-loving beer fans are ready for a beer bar with national aspirations.

"At the end of the day, we're going to put out a great product and we're going to support the local brewers in every town we go into," he said.

An adult arcade to replace Karma?

It sounds like the shuttered Karma nightclub space in downtown Minneapolis finally has a new tenant. It's called Insert Coin(s), an ultralounge that's a mix between a dance club and a video game arcade. The concept's sole other location is in Las Vegas, where it's a favorite hangout for athletes and visiting celebrities. Owner Chris LaPorte said he's signed the lease and is hoping to open in late 2012 (his business partner lives here). However, the building's owner, Ned Abdul, said they are still in negotiations and nothing is finalized.

While Insert Coin(s) has an arcade component, don't expect another Gameworks. It's not a family fun center, LaPorte said. "We call ourselves interactive nightlife," he said. There's a dance floor and DJs perform every night. The Vegas location has 60 fully restored classic arcade cabinet games, as well as gaming consoles at the bar. So instead of watching ESPN, you can play the newest "Madden" or "Red Dead Redemption" from your stool. You can also play Xbox and Playstation 3 at your swanky booth, plus order bottle service. The original Insert Coin(s) has also hosted live performances by artists like De La Soul and Talib Kweli. LaPorte thinks the concept will fit right into downtown's party-hard scene.

"The video game demographic is everybody," LaPorte said.

TOM HORGEN

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