### UPDATE: Read our Q-and-A with Leslie Bock.
// The sequel to Leslie Bock’s tiki bar could be ready by Thanksgiving //
You wouldn’t know it from the muck of wet concrete and mud out in front of the building, but the new Psycho Suzi’s could be open by Thanksgiving. In fact, you might even be able to get a Suffering Bastard, spiked dangerously with 151, on Turkey Day.
Owner Leslie Bock — who has been tight-lipped about her punk rock tiki lounge’s move into the former Gabby’s space, at 1900 Marshall St. NE — confirmed that the new bar was “a wee bit behind schedule” and wouldn’t make its rumored Nov. 15 opening date.
“We’re looking to the 22nd [of November] to be open at this point,” she wrote in an email. “But we are waiting on a few construction materials that have not yet arrived.”
The big hold up? A massive plumbing headache.
Bock’s team has had to complete a major upgrade to the old storm water drainage system at Gabby’s — a project that left the front parking lot a mess for six to seven weeks, visible to anyone driving by. The entire lot was excavated, and a drainage system was installed below ground. The effort cost over $100,000, Bock said, and took much longer than expected.
“That makes my heart sink,” said Christine Levens, executive director of the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, when she heard about the hassle.
Like Levens, many in the Northeast business community are eager to see Bock enact another Cinderella transformation for a troubled area property.
The current Psycho Suzi’s, at 2519 Marshall St. NE, returned life to a vacant A&W drive-in in late 2003. Then in 2009, Bock revamped the notoriously dodgy Stand Up Frank’s — which Vita.mn’s Alexis McKinnis once deemed “one of the few bars in Minneapolis that successfully freaked me out a little” — making it a destination again as the horror/kitsch-themed Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den, 2027 N. 2nd St.
Gabby’s itself was a raucous bar that frequently stoked neighborhood and city ire with its loud hip-hop nights and off-premise problems. In 2006, police responded to over 150 calls to the establishment. The city fought back, imposing sanctions, fines and forcing owner Jeff Ormond to end the bar’s popular free drink specials. Ormond, who owned the business for 24 years before selling to Bock this summer, responded with a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2008, alleging that such moves were aimed at driving away his African-American patrons. That lawsuit was eventually dropped, but the saga continued until last year, when Ormond eventually took home about $200,000 in a settlement.
Many view Bock’s ownership as welcome closure to the Gabby’s era.
“We’re excited,” said Bill Kozlak, who owns Jax Café and knows Bock personally from her frequent visits to his restaurant. “Any time you take a vacant space and improve it and bring in more traffic to the neighborhood, it’s great.”
Bob Marget who owns River Liquors, a mere 100 yards away from the original Suzi’s, said he was particularly thrilled about two things: the new bar’s spacious patio, which perches directly over the Mississippi River.
“And the expanded food menu. Which I hear is going to be awesome,” he said. “There wasn’t even a grill at the other place over here, so if it wasn’t pizza or deep-fried, you couldn’t even get a hamburger.”
Marget, who has known Bock since he spoke in favor of her bar’s opening at a public hearing eight years ago, said he had also heard Bock was aiming for a Thanksgiving week opening.
As for the current Psycho Suzi’s space, Bock owns the property and has been actively seeking a buyer. She has also said that she has a new concept in mind for the bar should a sale not happen.
“I don’t want to close my current location until I know an exact date that the construction will be completed,” she wrote.
So for now, the luau will have to wait. But don’t be surprised if Turkey Day brings a hint of the tropics to Marshall St. NE.
If Bock ends up with a network of three bars, Marget’s all for it.
“Her and her staff, they’ve been our neighbors for eight years, and I can’t think of one complaint that I would have in those eight years,” he said. “They run a really professional ship.”