Sam Wigness and Amy Ziegler were on their way to dinner at Bar Abilene on Monday evening when they were stopped by a sign on the door of the well-known Minneapolis nightspot.

“Old cowboys never die,” the sign began, “they just keep moving on.”

The rest of the sign announced that the bar, a mainstay in the Uptown neighborhood for 16 years, had closed. “It is now time for us and for Bar Abilene to move on,” said the note, which was signed by owners Sam and Sylvia Kaplan.

The overnight closing, first announced in a Twitter message that was posted late Sunday, caught most people by surprise.

“It was always packed,” Wigness said, with Ziegler adding: “Especially on weekends.”

Bill Crean and Sarah Lundquist, who also live in the area, said the bar, at 1300 Lagoon Av. S., “was part of our regular rotation” of eateries. They saw no indication that it was about to close.

“In fact, Friday and Saturday nights they were advertising special drink prices for the Labor Day weekend,” Crean said.

The bar’s closing leaves a void in the Uptown social scene, said Michael Rietmulder, who covers bars and nightlife as a regular contributor to the Star Tribune.

“It was the only bar in Uptown that had dancing,” he said. “And that was a big draw.”

But it was a niche audience that tended to come only at certain times, he said.

“It was a late-night crowd,” he said. “The last couple of years, you could go in there in the evening and the place would be dead. Then, from midnight to 2, it was slammed.”

Neither the notice on the door nor the Twitter message gave a reason for the bar’s closing.

The notice did offer “a sincere thank you to our devoted employees, our excellent vendors and most of all to our customers who we have enjoyed doing business with over these past years.”

The Kaplans, of Minneapolis, are involved in restaurants, the arts and Democratic politics. They could not be reached for comment Monday.

Jeff Strickler