Matty O'Reilly is no stranger to the Hennepin-Lake bar and restaurant scene. He used to live in the neighborhood. He once managed Chino Latino, and he helped reform Figlio's happy hour into an Uptown institution.
"I know this corner inside and out," said the seasoned restaurateur, whose old band, Coolidge, regularly gigged at the defunct Uptown Bar.
So, as O'Reilly prepares for a Monday opening in Uptown of Republic, his Seven Corners beer bar, it's almost a homecoming. Even the second-floor space in Calhoun Square he and his business partner/high-school bud Rick Guntzel are leasing was his old haunt when it housed the Smiling Moose.
While his casual, craft-beer focused watering hole will be a marked departure from the most recent tenant, the clubbier Independent, O'Reilly's aiming for a familiar feel. "We want people to walk in and feel like it had been there for years," he said, walking through the still-coming-together dining room.
O'Reilly is keeping the white booths and tabletops used by his predecessors, but he's added worn-looking wooden floors and exchanged a sleek bar top for a rustic pint-glass landing strip more in line with his hoodie-rocking demeanor. The mug-friendly aesthetic better suits a beer hall featuring 52 tap handles (plus a pair of firkins).
In perhaps the most noticeable change to the 6,600-square-foot space, O'Reilly knocked out a wall and opened the space that overlooks the busy intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue S. This is sure to become the place's most sought-after location.
Initially, Republic Uptown's food menu will mirror that of the 1 1/2-year-old Seven Corners location, where grass-fed beef and a locavore emphasis results in a better brand of bar food. But with a kitchen twice as big, O'Reilly said he expects some evolution.
Where the craft-brew conductor plans to distinguish his new joint, from both its progenitor and Primebar -- the equally tap-tastic bar beneath Republic Uptown -- is with his beer list. The plus-sized roster will feature nine or 10 Belgians, a Twin Cities tilt, a handful of beers on nitro and four constantly rotating lines.
"I compare it to being in high school and mixing a tape for your girlfriend," O'Reilly said. "Every song matters."
If his newest mixtape has beer fiends swooning like Tiger Beat-collecting schoolgirls, he might want to rethink Republic Uptown's 1 a.m. closing time (though with a 2 a.m. license O'Reilly said he won't exactly pull the fire alarm on a packed bar). Still, given the area's after-midnight bustle it's easy to picture a legion of beer-lappers lingering till last call, whenever it may be.
3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-886-2309, www.republicmn.comMeanwhile, at 8th and Hennepin
Republic's not the only bar to be born Monday. Upscale dining destination Union and its nightclub counterpart, Marquee, also has its public opening planned for Monday.
The tri-level establishment from Kam Talebi (owner of the Crave empire) moves into the long-shuttered Shinders building in downtown Minneapolis, plunking a retractable roof over its building-top patio for a four-season experience (yeah, it's pretty cool).
Stay tuned for much more about this new downtown hotspot next Friday.
731 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-455-6690, www.unionmpls.comCar-service app
Twin Cities' bar-hoppers (or really anyone who needs a cab) have a stylish new way of cavorting around the metro.
Since its official launch at the end of October, Uber MSP has been linking independent black-car drivers with local customers via its iPhone/Android app. Uber contracts with licensed drivers and stores users' credit card info, so no money exchanges hands at the end of the ride (tip included).