These days, it seems you either love Uptown or you hate it.
The dining destination is still home to cozy independents such as Lucia's and Barbette, but it's also a bastion of bro bars and retail chains.
Restaurant chains are taking a liking to the area, too -- Primebar opened in Calhoun Square last month and Bar Louie's debut is just around the corner. If you ask me, Uptown could use a good, homegrown neighborhood bar with a stellar craft beer list and locally sourced comfort food. Is that too much to ask?
Boom, prayers answered: The owners of Republic tell me they will open a second location of their acclaimed beer bar in Calhoun Square, with luck by November. Matty O'Reilly and Rick Guntzel have signed a lease for the second-level space that was home to the Independent.
The original Republic opened in May 2011 in the old Sgt. Preston's at Seven Corners. The pub made a quick name for itself by holding weekly craft beer events (beer school!) and expanding its tap beer portfolio to a whopping 56 drafts.
O'Reilly's Uptown plans call for a total remodeling of the Independent's sleeker, clubby space.
"It'll be very similar to the Seven Corners location -- we'll strip the space back to nothing, see what's there and then add what we need," he said.
He'll warm up the room by adding timber and brick. The biggest change will come to the Independent's shabby smoking porch. The underused space will be transformed into an extension of the interior bar with big windows and more seating.
They're aiming for about 40 tap lines, continuing Republic's commitment to Minnesota craft beers, as well as German and Belgian favorites. The food will mirror the original location, but the new kitchen's pizza oven means they might add flatbreads to the scratch-made menu.
O'Reilly is no stranger to Uptown. He lived in the neighborhood 20 years ago and spent many nights in this very bar, when it was called the Smiling Moose (before the Independent).
The look of the area has changed but that doesn't mean the Republic can't help bring back some of that neighborhood charm.
"For me, I'd love to maintain that sort of place in the community again," O'Reilly said.Vinylmania at the Kitty Cat
Talk about old-school. The DJ crew behind the monthly "Hipshaker" dance night don't only use vinyl records -- these guys only spin rare 45s. Brian Engel and Greg Waletski will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their soul and funk night with a two-night stand at the Kitty Kat Club. On Friday, the duo will be joined by their original Hipshaker partner Ron Wade. Then, on Saturday, the guys will welcome a big lineup of soul DJs, including Marcos Prado, Nick Soul, Andy Noble and others. And you thought CDs were vintage.
9 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 313 14th Av. SE., Mpls. $5 each night or $8 for both. 612-331-9800. www.kittycatklub.net.Hog wild in Linden Hills
So many block parties, so little time, right? Here's one you shouldn't miss. Chef Steven Brown's acclaimed Linden Hills restaurant, Tilia, is throwing its first block party Sunday. Augtoberfest, as it's being called, will feature a free day of bands, including the Honeydogs, Lucy Michelle (solo), Javier and the Innocent Sons and more. The restaurant will have a hog roast, plus a street photo booth, face painters and a beer release from Harriet Brewing.
1-7 p.m. Sun. 2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls. Free. 612-354-2806. www.tiliampls.com.