Honey, the beloved basement club on E. Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, will close permanently along with its sister restaurant Ginger Hop, following extended closures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The owners of both locations announced they were shutting down with a short Facebook post Thursday afternoon. Ginger Hop’s final day of business is Saturday. Honey initially shut down after Minneapolis ordered the closure of bars, restaurants and other public spaces earlier this month to limit the spread of the virus. Ginger Hop briefly attempted to keep its kitchen open for takeout service.
The owners said they were already considering the future of both businesses before the coronavirus reached Minnesota.
“You just can’t see right now what tomorrow or three months from now or six months from now” will look like, co-owner Jon Provenzano said Friday morning. “Maybe it’s our turn to hand it off to someone else.”
Provenzano, together with Charles Lodge, Katey Leitch and Jake Polt opened Ginger Hop and Honey in 2009. The four of them have worked together in the restaurant industry since 1994.
Located right below Ginger Hop, Honey gained a reputation for its cavernous appearance, booming sound system and no-frills dance floor.
“Some people call it a nightclub. We’ve never looked at it as a nightclub,” Provenzano, 48, said. “We looked at it as a community space that people danced at.”
A diverse crowd descended the club’s stairs every weekend looking for a place to dance, listen to music and express themselves. There was no dress code.
“People would make fun of it: ‘It’s a dumpy garage,’” Provenzano said. “To me, those are the best compliments.”
Hip-hop throwbacks, house tracks, bass-heavy electronic music, reggaeton and more could be heard thumping from the floor of Ginger Hop on any given night. Much of that was due to Provenzano, Lodge said, who booked acts for the club.
“His eyes are wide open with people and he’s willing to give people a chance” Lodge, 58, said.
Flip Phone, a popular dance and drag party, began at Honey in 2012. So did House Proud, a monthly house music party organized by DJ Bryan Gerrard.
“I could go on and on about my love for Honey, House Proud and the whole damn thing but for now I’m just going to thank everyone for the memories, and think about how to make more in the future,” Gerrard wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.
The venue also hosted poetry nights, metal bands, opera, wedding receptions, as well as several international DJs and electronic musicians booked by Jon Davis, who ran the sound system. Even Lizzo would show up in her early days in the city, Provenzano recalled.
The lease on both spaces ends this spring, said Lodge. He hopes small businesses like his get some form of financial relief from landlords and the government as they weather the pandemic.
On Friday, Lodge thanked his employees, musicians and dancers who came to Honey every week. He urged them to keep creating.
“The loss of the human expression of dance, and singing together and drinking together ... it might be slow in coming back,” he said. “Throughout human existence, people have gotten together for celebrations, and they will again.”
During this time of self-isolation, Provenzano said he hoped people realized the importance of the social connections they made at places like Honey, whether it was talking in line or buying someone a drink.
“I wish I could see all their faces. I’d love to see them again healthy and happy,” he said. “As cheesy as that is, that’s the truth.”