At a new bar in Northeast Minneapolis, water is the only thing on tap.
Owners Shanai Matteson and Colin Kloecker are officially opening the Water Bar & Public Studio in the Holland neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis during Art-A-Whirl weekend (May 20-22). The concept, a combination business and art project, will serve tasting flights of free water from cities across the Twin Cities metro in order to spark conversations on what goes into something most people take for granted.
Matteson and Kloecker, co-directors behind Works Progress Studio, started the concept a couple years ago with pop-up water bars at events around the city, such as Northern Spark. Now, with a long-term home of its own, the wife-husband team want to create a hub for artists, residents and professionals who work with water.
“It’s about much more than drinking water. You’ll be able to come in and be able to learn something about our water system. You’ll be able to ask questions [and] share stories about water,” Matteson said.
Water Bar & Public Studio will be one part taproom and one part collaborative art studio. During regular taproom hours, people can come in and taste flights of a few different waters — Minneapolis will always be featured — served by experts on the water system.
In the back, Works Progress Studio, their public art and design studio, will have an incubator and store for art that connects with themes of water, place and environment. Matteson and Kloecker will fund the volunteer-run project in part by hosting bar pop-ups and selling art and empty growlers.
One thing they’ve learned serving water from various municipalities is that Minneapolis has high-quality drinking water, which comes from the Mississippi River. Many suburbs get their water from groundwater and rural communities may draw from wells, so the processing, composition and even taste fluctuate. With the Flint, Mich. water crisis making headlines, contaminants and other issues with water are a national concern.
“Minneapolis actually has really great tap water so it’s nice to be able to feature that. We want to be a place to talk about and compare the way that water matters in different communities,” Matteson said.
While not a traditional Northeast Minneapolis taproom, Matteson says the concept ties into the culture of breweries.
“If you really like beer, you probably also like water. Water is really important to beer,” Matteson laughed. “We do want to be on the taproom tours. We want to be a part of that experience of Northeast.”
Water Bar & Public Studio at 2516 Central Ave. NE will open during Art-A-Whirl weekend. The concept will host a free Neighborhood Night on Thursday, May 5 from 5-7 p.m. and a ticketed house show with P.O.S. afterward at 8 p.m. Water Bar & Public Studio has its hours, event listings and more information at water-bar.org.