Greyhound bus stations aren’t exactly the height of opulence these days, but Brian Ingram hopes to hark back to a more romantic era of bus travel in his new restaurant, Bus Stop Brewhouse.
A 1929 Dittmar bus out on the patio is just the start of full-on bus nostalgia in the shadow of U.S. Bank Stadium. Bus Stop Brewhouse opens Dec. 30 (620 S. 4th St., Mpls., busstopbrewhouse.com).
The restaurant, in one of the Downtown East Wells Fargo towers, is designed to look like a 1920s bus depot. Speckled blue Marlite flooring, doors with frosted glass (taken from an old Sears store in Fargo), a counter and DJ booth made from a retrofitted trolley, historic bus maps inlaid into tabletops, even a turnstile to get into the bathroom are some of the vintage touches.
“It’s like ‘American Pickers,’ [a History Channel reality show about collectors],” said Ingram, chief development officer of Williston Holding, the company behind Bus Stop.
Ingram recently opened Cargo Food Authority at Target Center — a restaurant and bar fashioned out of old shipping containers. He was also behind the concept of St. Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park, which collected several food trucks in one space. (He’s no longer with that company.)
This time, it’s buses. And, if all goes his way, he’ll move on to pontoons next, and eventually, convert an old service station into another of his transit-themed food halls.
“I grew up around cars and worked on cars,” Ingram said. Now, he collects buses.
As more restaurants incorporate food-truck-like layouts, Ingram looks down on those that only use facades, like the food-truck hall at MSP airport.
He basically stopped downtown traffic to hoist his full-size buses into his new place. “These aren’t make-believe,” he said. “These are real.”
One 1950s Greyhound bus serves as a bar that faces both inside and, in better weather, the patio. Ingram turned the driver’s seat into a selfie booth.
Patrons can place orders at the aforementioned trolley. And outside, that old Dittmar will be one big heated tailgate party for small events of up to 30 people.
A partly open kitchen is in a section of the restaurant designed to look like a bus station waiting room. That kitchen will be turning out mostly burgers and fries. The burgers come in a variety of proteins, including chicken, salmon, pork belly, the obligatory vegan patty — and a 10-pound food-challenge burger. The fries are spiral-cut like the ones at the State Fair. Rounding out the menu are more carnival-inspired apps: a giant pretzel, cheese curds. And for dessert, three kinds of pie courtesy of the bakers at the Lynhall.
As for drinks, Bus Stop will brew its own beer, and Tattersall will supply cocktails on tap.
Ingram is hoping the retro look and feel of the place will appeal to generations of diners. There’s that selfie booth for the young’uns and vintage gumball dispensers and cigarette machines to trigger memories for their grandparents.
That explains some of the hyper-theming going on at Ingram’s eateries.
“You have to be more than just a restaurant now,” he says. “This starts a conversation.”