Where's a good moose head when you need one?
One year after it was shuttered, Bullwinkle's Saloon is scheduled to reopen Saturday under new ownership. For the most part, it'll be the same townie college bar except for a few minor changes. For one, its signature moose head is gone. It walked off when the Seven Corners bar was closed.
"If somebody wants to bring it back, we'll welcome it," said new owner Bob Rick.
The bar also sacrificed part of its name. Now it's simply Bullwinkle Saloon. Earth-shattering, I know. (Supposedly, the original name is tied up with the old corporate entity.)
Rick, 68, a retired computer research analyst, is an unlikely savior of this 35-year-old bar. He knew the building's owners, the Singh brothers, from doing software development for them at the neighboring Jewel of India restaurant. After several suitors fell through, Rick stepped in to lease the space.
As a longtime West Bank advocate, he told me: "Somebody's got to do it."
But getting the doors open has been tougher than expected. While the weathered wood interior hasn't changed, Rick spent about $40,000 of his retirement money rehabbing stuff you don't see (behind the bar and in the kitchen). The food menu will get a slight update, but don't worry, the Coney Island dogs aren't going anywhere.
While most bar owners love to talk about how they're re-creating the wheel with bar food and craft beer, Rick seemed most interested in chatting about overconsumption and charity (two things close to his heart). He wouldn't let me off the phone without repeating several times: There will be no binge drinking at his bar. (Sorry, college kids!) He's also planning to hold charity events that will benefit nearby American Indian health groups.
In the meantime, someone get this man a moose head. In its place is a pair of antlers.
"That'll do for now," he said.
Smokehouse is now Northbound
Smokehouse Brewpub made a name for itself last September with a unique fundraising idea: For a mere $1,000, investors would get free beer for life. Now the south Minneapolis bar/brewery is changing its name to Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub.
So what's in a name? Owner/brewer Jamie Robinson tells me that Smokehouse was always meant to be a placeholder that could easily describe his concept to investors.
"The new name refers to chef Bryce Strickler's culinary roots on Minnesota's Iron Range," Robinson said. "It also ties in subtle imagery of commuters from the neighborhood going northbound on the light rail ... and it captures a general sense of Minnesota, which goes well with our commitment to using locally sourced ingredients."
After making that beer-for-life offer back in September, it only took Robinson one month to reach his funding goal (upwards of $200,000). But multiple delays have moved the opening back to midsummer, he said. Northbound, at 38th Street and 28th Avenue S., will be the first brewpub to open in Minneapolis since the Herkimer. You can read about its beers at NorthboundBrewpub.com.
As its former name suggests, the menu will be filled with smoked meat and veggies. Robinson, a former assistant manager at Town Hall Brewery, said his team started construction last Saturday. Stay tuned for updates.
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