According to AEG, the 15,500 square-foot-space will feature a restaurant and bar, but its main focus will be live entertainment. AEG sees the space as a potential home for concerts, live comedy, corporate events and more. The club will have a general admission capacity of 2,000 people. Nearby First Avenue’s mainroom capacity is roughly 1,400.
Los Angeles-based AEG owns several similarly sized clubs in other cities, including Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre and the Bluebird Theater in Denver. AEG also operates the Target Center.
The venue will also feature a lower-level bar called The Basement @ The Brick, which will be open before and after shows as well as non-show days. The reunited Jane’s Addiction is the only announced performer for the space thus far. The band listed a show at The Brick on March 19 as part of its upcoming tour.
Maruso Street Food and Cocktails coming soon
HENNEPIN — The To Soho storefront at 715 Hennepin Ave. will become Marusu Street Food and Cocktails this spring. The new restaurant will focus on affordable, Asian-inspired food in a clean, modern setting.
According to property owner and restaurant partner David Kabanuk, many parties have expressed interest in the space, but a restaurant was always the ideal tenant. The space has the capacity for an 80-person dining room, as well as an open kitchen, bar and outdoor patio area. “It’s important to us to have a nice restaurant,” said Kabanuk.
It is also important, he said, to offer something different to the downtown crowd. While Maruso will be a stylish and sophisticated place, it won’t be a “destination restaurant” like Fogo de Chao or the Capital Grille. Instead, the restaurant will focus on food in the $7 to $10 range to create an affordable place for downtown workers and residents looking for alternatives to both fast food and fine dining.
The menu includes Asian-inspired dishes such as bahn mi sandwiches, pho soups, rice dishes and more. The restaurant takes its name from the Maruso Soy Sauce Company in Taiwan, founded in 1909. The soy sauce company was founded by the great-grandfather of Dr. Bill Chuang, one of the principles of Maruso Street Food and Cocktails.
The opening of Maruso Street Food and Cocktails is tentatively scheduled for February.
Block E loses more tenants, theater likely next
HENNEPIN — The number of retail operations in Block E continues to dwindle. Three more retail tenants have closed their doors, with the movie theater likely to follow soon. Both the GameStop and Jewel Spa have closed, and the Mrs. Field’s Cookies franchise has “temporarily suspended service.”
The GameStop branch closed its doors on Nov. 10, 2011, according to GameStop corporate. Jewel Spa closed its doors on Dec. 3. Mrs. Field’s corporate did not respond to requests for a statement, but the downtown location is no longer listed on its website.
In a related story, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul upheld a previous ruling that the AMC Theater in Block E does not have the right to extend its lease beyond September. Bob Lux, principal at Block E owner Alatus, LLC, has previously stated that the movie theater would not be asked to stay if the proposal to redevelop Block E into a casino moves forward. The theater initially sued after declining a buyout offer.
“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling,” said Alatus principal Phillip Jaffe.
Keegan’s Pub celebrates 10 years with a month of events
UNIVERSITY — Keegan’s Irish Pub opened at 16 University Ave. NE on March 11, 2002, and will mark its 10-year anniversary with a month-long celebration this March. Plans for the celebration include live music every Saturday, a two-day tent party for St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness promotional teams, a “polar plunge” sponsorship and $5 Guinness pints (the price in 2002) all month long.
“It’ll be a big month,” said Keegan’s Pub founder Terry Keegan.
Keegan launched the pub after retiring from the advertising industry. “I found out that I was too young to be retired,” he said.
After their favorite hangout closed, Keegan’s friends suggest that he open a bar so they would have a new place. He agreed, and discovered the Guinness beer company had a school for running “Irish Pub Concept” bars. To qualify as an Irish Pub Concept, a bar must be built in Ireland by Irish craftsmen and feature traditional Irish music and food. Keegan completed the Guinness school program, visited Ireland and contracted an Irish company to build his bar. Upon completion it was shipped to Minneapolis, complete with four Irish craftsmen to finish the assembly. Keegan’s Irish Pub was the first Irish Pub Concept in Minnesota.
Times have not always been easy at Keegan’s. Terry Keegan said 2004 was particularly hard, as Hennepin County’s smoking ban sent business to nearby Anoka County. Business recovered after the statewide ban went into effect, and then the recession hit. Fortunately, things have one again turned around.
“2011 was our best year ever in terms of sales,” said Keegan. “That’s really a big swing because 2009 was our worst year ever in terms of sales.”
For more information on Keegan’s 10-year anniversary, visit keeganspub.com
First Avenue undergoes renovations
WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — First Avenue’s mainroom is undergoing renovations that will improve sightlines and open up the dance floor, said general manager Nathan Kranz.
The project will see the relocation of the large stairway on the First Avenue side of the building, which has long had a reputation of blocking views on that side of the club.
“Around the end of the year we always look to see what we can do to make the club a little better,” said Kranz. “By moving that staircase, I think it will give more people a chance to have a better time at a show.”
The staircase will be moved closer to the First Avenue wall, one of the club’s quietest areas. “Let’s tear this staircase down and move it to a place that no one wants to stand anyway,” said Kranz.
The relocation of the staircase will alter the doorway to the upstairs Record Room by moving it a few feet. The handicapped bathroom on the first floor is also being renovated, and an additional downstairs bar is being constructed. Kranz said that all of the construction should be complete by Feb. 14.
Eli’s East opens
EAST HENNEPIN — Fans of the Eli’s restaurant in the Loring Park neighborhood will be happy to know that Eli’s East is now open in a second location at 815 E. Hennepin Ave.
“A lot of our regulars have been talking about how we need to open another location,” said Chef Jeff Weber. “We’ve been looking at properties for a few years, and we thought this area was a good fit.”
He said the Northeast venue is still approachable but a bit more modern, with a copper bar top, Bird’s Eye Oak from England, wainscoting salvaged from an office building, and a summer patio next to Legends Bar & Grill with a fire pit custom-built by a Minneapolitan.
Menu staples making the trip from Downtown include the burgers, crab cakes, penne and cheese and the pastrami sandwich (brined and smoked in-house).
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Weber said.
A few more steaks round out the menu in Northeast, and down the road, Weber would like to get a band saw to cut steaks in-house.
Eli’s also plans to serve brunch in the future, and it will stay open late: the kitchen until 1 a.m. and the bar until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Turkey To Go opens new skyway restaurant
SKYWAYS — Popular Minnesota State Fair and street food vendor Turkey To Go opened its new skyway restaurant location on Jan. 23 in the Baker Building, 706 2nd Ave. S.
In addition to Turkey To Go’s trademark turkey sandwiches, the restaurant also offers salads and pitas and a new toppings bar so patrons can customize their meal. Toppings include lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, jalepenos and much more.
The 16-table restaurant is decorated with vintage photos of the State Fair Turkey To Go Booth that stretch back all the way to the booth’s debut in 1958.
Oceanaire Seafood Room now open
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT — The Oceanaire Seafood Room is now open at its new location, 50 6th St. S. The seafood restaurant announced it was leaving the Hyatt Regency Hotel last summer for the former home of M&S Grill. Every element of the street level space has been renovated and general manager Jacob Uttich said the new space’s open layout, larger bar and general upgrades have been a big hit with customers.
“So far so good,” Said Uttich. “We’re busy, people love it.”
The new location offers more than 8,500 square feet of dining space, including a private room. Outdoor dining will begin in the spring, and the restaurant’s new lunch service commenced on Jan. 30.
Interactive entertainment firm Puny has relocated from its original home in Northeast to a new downtown location at 120 1st Ave. N. The company recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.
Michelle Bruch contributed to this report. Got a buzz tip? Email Jeremy Zoss at firstname.lastname@example.org.