Walking onto the new and improved patio at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge in northeast Minneapolis carries a feeling of unease. As you hunt for a table among spooky tiki carvings and tropical plant life, you can't help but feel that spear-wielding islanders in grass skirts are lurking around each corner of the lengthy terrace.
But there are no cannibals here -- only picture-snapping patrons and tattooed servers slinging colorful cocktails.
Gazing around this tiki wonderland on the Mississippi, it's easy to predict that the new Suzi's patio is going to be one desirable destination this summer. (PedalPub crews are already making the rounds.) Owner Leslie Bock certainly hopes so, after abandoning the Motor Lounge's original location a few blocks north last year for the more spacious quarters formerly housing Gabby's Saloon. "Our business is the patio, and we depend on that business in the summer," Bock said. "It's part of our identity."
The patio at Suzi's old locale was already one of the Twin Cities' best, drawing imbibers from across the metro area. But Bock's massive new riverfront resort is an attraction far beyond what her previous confines could offer -- although the patio was still sparsely populated during a chilly late-April visit.
In addition to patio partying, Bock's bar is marked by her infamously tacky taste and affinity for all things over the top. The sui generis restaurateur operates her watering holes -- including Donny Dirk's Zombie Den just across the river -- following one simple axiom: What would Siegfried & Roy do?
While you won't find a tiger chained to a tiki torch on the nearly 8,000-square-foot patio, one-of-a-kind sculptures and woodcarvings are scattered across an expansive deck littered with thatched umbrellas, creating a 1960s north-country-cabana vibe.
"Suzi's has always been about quirky fun, escapism and mending people's broken dreams through phony grown-up vacationland and booze," Bock said.
After popping inside to warm up with a rum-based coconut-flavored concoction known as a Fooga Fever (voted Suzi's best drink by my party of five), I returned to the blustery patio, where hardy Minnesotans like Diane Pauly and Northeast resident Tricia Hubbard were experiencing Suzi's new outdoor digs for the first time. "Other than the cold weather, it's fabulous," said Pauly, 33.
Other revelers lauded the openness and riverfront real estate Suzi's occupies -- it almost feels like you're sitting on top of the Mississippi River.
Although the new location has Minneapolis' Queen of Kitsch and her punk-rock court poised for bigger and better things, Bock said she wasn't prepared to pack her bags last year, but had little choice. The city had concerns about the previous patio, such as Bock's addition of porta-potties to accommodate increasing summertime traffic, she said. After much deliberation, Bock and her crew decided to hunt for a new Northeast location with a comparable or better patio. Then Gabby's became available.
"Even though I was not emotionally or financially ready to do so, it turned out to be the best decision I've made in a while," Bock said.
We can only assume Siegfried & Roy would've done the same thing.