Fun facts about the new Psycho Suzi's
On opening weekend in late November, a line of anxious bargoers snaked out the front door of the new Psycho Suzi's at 1900 Marshall St. in northeast Minneapolis. In the midst of it all, owner Leslie Bock sat back and thought to herself: Where did all of these people come from?
A smaller version of Psycho Suzi's had existed for seven years at the corner of Marshall and Lowry Avenue NE., just a few blocks away. On a busy winter night, that bar could hold about 80 people.
But now, Bock has transformed the former saloon/hip-hop club Gabby's into what she calls a "tiki Taj Mahal." The supersized tiki palace has seating for almost 450 -- and every one of those seats was filled on the bar's first Saturday night. Here are some fun facts about the new Suzi's.
The move came out of necessity. Bock said Minneapolis licensing basically forced her hand. In 2009, the city told her that the patio at the original Psycho Suzi's was too big and would have to be cut by more than half. As serendipity would have it, the nearby Gabby's had become available. "I've always wanted to be on the river," Bock said.
This butt-ugly building has heavenly origins. Bock said the 16,000-square-foot building originally was designed from church blueprints (however, it most likely was never a church). The giant second level has been dubbed Shangri-La (open Fridays and Saturdays). It's home to three themed bars, each with its own cocktail menu. Sure enough, the vaulted ceiling screams church (of debauchery).
Tiki is a state of mind. Tiki culture is enjoying a newfound shot of respectability. But Bock doesn't seem interested in snooty authenticity. Tiki culture, after all, was an ethnographic gag created in 1930s Los Angeles. "It's almost an oxymoron to be an authentic tiki bar," Bock said. "The whole point is to make it your own."
The cocktail list is topped by a $48 behemoth. Behold: The Mender of Broken Dreams is a 92-ounce, three-tiered cocktail platter that flashes, smokes and comes covered in flowers. It's like drinking an amusement park ride (it serves 10). The full cocktail menu is spread across four distinct bars, each with its own array of slushes, shots, tiki mugs and other oddities served in conch shells, pineapples and coconuts. The bar's familiar brand of comfort food now includes burgers. Coming soon: Bartender Johnny Michaels has contributed to a series of themed cocktails called "Psycho Tiki Warlords From Outer Space." Each limited-edition cocktail will come with its own story line and collector's pint glass.
It's far from finished. The full potential of this place won't be decided until its riverfront patio opens in the spring. Bock's crew already has begun working on the foundation. At a massive 7,000 square feet, it'll be three times the size of Gabby's old patio and will include a hut, gas-powered tiki torches, trees and seating for 335 people. A tiki Taj Mahal sounds about right.
- Tom Horgen
Food carts head indoors
Some Minnesotans migrate south when the snow flies. If you're a downtown Minneapolis food cart vendor, you head indoors. Brothers Deli (www.thebrothersdeli.com) owner Jeff Burstein has relocated the sandwich cart he outfitted this summer at 8th Street and Nicollet Mall into a temperature-controlled, skyway-level spot in the Soo Line Building (5th St. and Marquette Av. S.). Weekday lunch plans include the same pastrami and corned beef goodness, plus house-made potato chips and popovers with honey butter.
Meanwhile, Turkey to Go (www.turkeyguys.com), which also carved out a niche this summer at 8th and Nicollet, is heading into the street-level food court inside the Northstar Center (7th St. and 2nd Av. S.), selling its full complement of roasted turkey sandwiches for weekday lunchers. "We might even do something like cinnamon rolls and coffee, early, if we see that there is a need," said executive chef Tim Malloy. "Nothing too fancy, just a simple grab and go." The stand should pop up sometime next week.
- Rick Nelson
Low gets Grammy nod, sort of
It's one of the best songs on the best Minnesota-made album of the '00s, so it shouldn't be all that big a surprise that Low's "Silver Rider" is up for a Grammy Award. Or it's sort of up for an award, anyway. Robert Plant's cover version of the tune -- one of two he recorded off the Duluth trio's 2005 album "The Great Destroyer" -- has been nominated for best solo rock performance in the awards list announced last week. Plant's whole album, "Band of Joy," also earned a nod for best Americana album. Not long after he found out Plant covered their songs for his Buddy Miller-produced album, Low's ever-humble frontman Alan Sparhawk told us, "Just imagining that that guy spent maybe three minutes trying to figure out one of my songs is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced." Imagine how honored he must feel now.
- Chris Riemenschneider
Holiday dance parties
The club scene is celebrating the holidays early with several themed parties this weekend. The Triple Rock's "37th Annual Shitty Christmas Party" has an all-star cast of DJs including Jonathan Ackerman, Soviet Panda, Millions Billions and Bach. Bar-Fly will have a winter fashion show in its main room and something called "Holiblaze" in the Loft. It will feature hip-hop, R&B and electronica acts spread over two stages. Is Russian trance your thing? Envy is hosting a whole night of it with the "Euro Dance Holiday Party." Aqua has some sort of romp called "Whipped Up Winter Wonderland" with DJ Ron Ron and all sorts of oversexed holiday games.
- Tom Horgen
Current anniversary lineup announced
His brief appearance in the owner's box at the last party and the heavy airplay given to his new songs weren't enough to get Prince to commit to performing for the Current's sixth birthday party at First Avenue on Jan. 21, but the lineup still promises an impressive display of local rock royalty: Cloud Cult, Jeremy Messersmith and those Minnesota-bred Philadelphians Free Energy will share the stage that night. A fourth act of major interest to Current listeners was also supposed to be announced on air Wednesday, but its involvement is now up in the air for health reasons. Either way, expect at least one other name to be added and maybe a surprise or two, but don't wait to find out who before nabbing tickets. They go on sale to MPR members for $12 on Wednesday at noon, and a small number will be left for the general public for $14 on Dec. 17 at noon. On both those days, 200 tickets will be available next door to First Ave at the Depot for the folks who refuse to pay Ticketmaster fees.
- Chris Riemenschneider
The most expensive tequila shot of your life
Being that Jose Cuervo is basically the Budweiser of the tequila world, this should come as a surprise. To celebrate the company's 250th anniversary (that's older than Mexico itself), Cuervo has stepped into the rarefied field of truly high-end tequilas with a bottle called Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario. Limited to 495 bottles and retailing for just over $2,250, these babies are rare. But Rojo, the Mexican restaurant at the West End, got its hands on one. The bottle is an extra añejo, endlessly aged and blended in a double-cask method. The final aging lasts for 10 months in sherry casks originating from Spain. The cost of a single shot at Rojo? $300. For the price, buyers can expect Rojo to roll out the red carpet. The tequila will be presented in its fashionable oak box and crystal decanter, while a manager sings its virtues. The rare bottle arrived at Rojo last week. So far, the bar has served one glass. (1602 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park. 952-657-5385. www.rojomexicangrill.com.)
- Tom Horgen