Wasn't there a moratorium on cowboy bars?

With the suburbs fully stocked -- thanks to Toby Keith's, Wild Bill's and Cowboy Jack's -- downtown Minneapolis is looking like the final frontier. Of the three brands, it's the locally owned Cowboy Jack's that will be settling in the rowdy club district.

Don't expect a country-spiked dance club, said co-owner Chris Diebold.

"We don't do clubs," he said. "Just the opposite: We're a bar and restaurant."

The outlaw-themed concept is under construction in the unfinished Ahern's Irish Pub space. Look for a late-April or early-May opening. Diebold and business partner Brian Asmus already have locations in Bloomington, Plymouth and St. Cloud, as well as Cowboy Slim's in Uptown and Cowboy's Saloon in Circle Pines.

With its prime location (one block from Target Field, next to Epic), the space's former occupant seemed destined for big things. But after a year of delays, Ahern's never opened in the 14,000-square-foot building. Ahern's issues, it turned out, were tied up in the financial problems of owner Kelly Jaedike's other business, the Melting Pot (which went through bankruptcy and has since been sold).

This Cowboy Jack's will be patterned after the Bloomington location, which is slightly larger. The bar will feature loads of reclaimed wood furnishings, faux rifles in place of door handles and peanut shells littering the floor. The Cowboy's menu is typical big-bar comfort food: ribs, wings, burgers and "country meatloaf." Its biggest asset in downtown will be the rooftop (never mind its view of parking garages).

While the theme of these bars is cowboy-country, the owners are known as motorcycle guys (they also own the Joint). "Right now we're trying to figure out where we're going to put the bikes," Asmus said.

Or as they call them, steel ponies.


Breaking in the Cowles

It's been a long road for break dancer J-Sun. He was battling rival b-boy crews in the mid-1990s when the Jabbawockeez were still in diapers. Since then the b-boy (real name: Jason Noer, now 35) has been one of the central figures in moving breaking from pavement battles to theatrical performances. His latest show -- "Hip-hop?" -- will be performed in the Goodale Theater inside the Cowles Center. J-Sun will be accompanied by Dancin' Dave, Arturo Miles, Ivy Morrison, Amy Sackett, StepChild and AnnieUp.


No beer belly is safe

In case you missed last week's craft-beer festival (and, yes, there was one a week before that, too), here comes another for your drinking pleasure. The Spring Ale Fest makes its debut at the Ritz Theater on April 7. Tickets are selling fast, so get them before they're gone. What's so different about this one, you ask? Besides the funky location, the fest is dedicated to the newest craft breweries on the market (some aren't even open yet). The roster includes Lucid, Harriet, Dangerous Man, Staples Mill, Lucette, Badger Hill, plus a few veteran small guys such as Flat Earth, Brau Brothers and Barley John's. There will be a total of 30 different beers on hand. The all-you-can-sample affair will also feature food trucks (Nate Dogs, Gastrotruck) and live music.

  • Two sessions: Noon-4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.
  • April 7
  • 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls
  • $30 advance/$40 door
  • 1-888-506-1276
  • www.springalefest.com


Slamming hunger with D-Will

Rookie showman Derrick Williams has helped the Timberwolves to an (almost) winning record. Now, he's hoping to throw an assist to the Emergency Foodshelf Network. On Thursday, he'll host the charity event "Bowling for Soup" at the Mall of America's Sky Deck Lanes. That's right, bowl with the Wolves star and help stock area food shelves with cans of soup. Bonus: Each strike and spare bowled during the night will raise additional cans (10 cans for 10 pins, etc.). Bring in a nonperishable food item and party promoter JD Style Group will match your donation. There's also a raffle for Wolves game tickets and other prizes.

  • 6-9 p.m. Thu. 4/5
  • 4th floor, Mall of America
  • $20 a person (one hour of bowling, gaming card, shoe rental) or $70 for a four-person family pack. All ages.
  • 952-500-8700
  • www.bowlingforsoup.eventbrite.com