The former Masa space at 11th and Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis, dark for 18 months, is about to come back to life.

Busy restaurateur Dermot Cowley — his properties include McKinney Roe and O’Donovan’s Irish Pub in Minneapolis, Jake O’Connor’s Public House in Excelsior and Lola’s Lakehouse in Waconia — is planning a casual, 180-seat bar and restaurant that’s based on Max’s Wine Dive, an up-and-coming Texas-based chain that impressed him while he was visiting the Lone Star State.

“It’s comfort food with a Southern influence, and a strong wine-by-the-glass program, with craft beers and cool cocktails,” he said. “There’s nothing like it downtown. It's something different, and I think it's going to be a great fit for the area.”

The menu, like the restaurant’s name, is still in development. But Cowley is bullish on the south Nicollet Mall address.

“It’s such a vibrant area,” he said. “There’s Brit’s, and the Local — which I helped to open, way back when — and Orchestra Hall, and the Convention Center. And Target has 6,000 people working upstairs.”

The build-out will begin in June (design is by Shea Inc. of Minneapolis), and one key feature is a bar that will wrap around an open-format kitchen.

“It’s going to have a cool and unique vibe,” said Cowley.

The November opening date is timed to coincide with the near-conclusion of the seemingly endless Nicollet Mall reconstruction, a $50 million project that's remaking the thoroughfare from Washington Av. to Grant St.

“Target had hoped that we’d get open before summer,” said Cowley. “But there’s no point going in while the mall is torn up. You only get one crack at that honeymoon period.”

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