St. Paul's Turf Club, near the intersection of University and Snelling avenues, has been hosting live music since the 1940s. / David Joes, Star Tribune


Fans excited about taking light-rail to the Turf Club when the Green Line opens in June are going to have to wait another couple months to do so. St. Paul’s most beloved rock venue will be closed during much of the summer for renovations. Plans call for the doors to shut starting June 1 and remain closed through probably at least the end of July – although, not literally closed, since new front doors are actually part of the vast array of upgrades that will be done in that time.

“We’ll be doing a kitchen installation, installing the fire suppression system, repairing the bars, putting a new roof on, replacing all of the HVAC, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting,” First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz listed off. First Avenue took over the club in October and formally bought it just before Christmas.

The Turf Club's interior will remain much the same.

The Turf Club's interior will remain much the same.

The kitchen instillation -- in the big part of the basement not used for the Clown Lounge – will be the most dramatic change for the Turf. After its success with the Depot Tavern, First Ave will similarly pair food service with its usual rock ‘n’ roll business, keeping customers there longer and bringing in non-rocking patrons, too. Kranz said the staff will hold a “soft opening” for a few weeks upon reopening to get the restaurant side in shape, followed by a grand reopening celebration, probably in early September.

Besides the kitchen, many of the other improvements – some of which are already under way – are mostly just structural renovations that won’t alter the club’s great character, something the First Ave crew (Turf patrons themselves) promised when they took over. In other words, it’s mostly just the kind of stuff that will keep the place standing for another 70 years, and maybe even another five or six more Mark Mallman Marathons.

As for the two-plus months when the club goes dark, look for more First Ave-promoted shows at the Cedar Cultural Center and Triple Rock. The Triple Rock, for instance, already has a couple shows on the summer calendar that otherwise might have gone to the Turf, including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on June 11 and a Felice Brothers/Robert Ellis co-bill on July 1.