A new craft beer bar is coming to northeast Minneapolis, and its aspirations don’t stop there. New Bohemia is shooting for a September opening in the former Panera Bread space (see rendering) 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.”
His bar will spread its brew line up across 40 tap lines and 100 bottles. Bornmann admits to being a craft beer novice, but the man curating Bohemia’s selection shouldn’t be a stranger to any serious Twin Cities beer fan.
Enter Jason Alvey, the owner of 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. Dirty tap lines are a pet peeve of his.
“It’s all about the beer experience,” Alvey said.
The food menu will be fast-casual, with several different sausages (beyond beef and pork, customers can expect duck, turkey, veggie and rattlesnake). The boho interior will feature long communal tables like a traditional beer hall, and a lot of reclaimed and recycled materials. Bornmann expects to start the built-out in July.
Bornmann said part of his plan is to “modernize the beer hall,” but was tight-lipped on exactly what that means. He let a couple details slip. Customers will be given iPads to peruse the bar’s extensive beer menu. With the touch of finger they’ll be able to search by flavor profile, beer style, etc. (I wonder if it’ll work somewhat like the Vinopad).
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’s no stranger to developing big concepts. He worked on the Water Park of America and the T-Rex restaurant at Disney World (with the Rainforest Café’s Steve Schussler). Bornmann thinks Minneapolis is a great test market. “If this works here, then we can take it pretty much anywhere,” he said. 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 in to,” he said.
Stay tuned for more updates.