Nye’s Polonaise Room to close

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
Nye’s Polonaise Room

The Best Bar in America is closing. The Strib item says, “A Minneapolis fixture, Nye’s Polonaise Room, will close next year. Owners of the bar and restaurant just across the river from downtown Minneapolis told employees Monday that it will shut its doors after 65 years in business. Home to the ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band,’ Nye’s has been a local icon for years. It was named in 2006 by Esquire men’s magazine as the best bar in America. … [Owner Rob] Jacob said that Nye’s wasn’t able to be competitive anymore and that the establishment had been struggling financially for years. If they had made changes, it would no longer be the Nye’s customers had grown to love, Jacob said.”

The Business Journal story by Clare Kennedy (and the first as best I can tell) says, “Nye’s will close in late summer or early fall. Restaurants don’t generally give advance notice of closures, but Jacob said the company decided to go against the grain out of respect for the bar’s 35 employees. Nye’s workers are members of Local 17 of the Twin Cities Hospitality Union.”

For the PiPress, Tad Vezner writes, “Nye’s opened in 1950 under Al Nye, a former machine shop foreman who wanted to cater to a blue collar crowd. In 1964, he bought the building next door and opened a wood-paneled piano bar, complete with a Chopin portrait and red and gold booths. Nye’s earned a reputation for live polka music, rowdy sing-alongs and a diverse demographic that ranged from age 21 to 80. … [Esquire] Writer Chris Jones noted Nye’s lack of ‘trendy’ or ‘posh’ characteristics, adding, ‘The best bar in America isn’t Irish. It isn’t in a strip mall. It isn’t the sort of place that charges an outrageous cover for people to stand around in black light pushing back shooters out of test tubes. … There is no snobbery, and there is no tonic-water drinking.'”

At The Current, a social hub for the sort of hipsters of all ages who love the place, the comments are pretty good. a sample:  Says “wscaddie56”: “This is insanely sad. I’d like to thank nye’s for all the great memories, and is also like to state Dan is likely the best bartender in Minneapolis and will be sorely missed.”

Says “kevinkampa”: “My grandfather, Richard Schultz, played the accordion and sax for most my life with Ruth Adams’ worlds most dangerous polka band. He is past (sic) on now, I miss him. The humor and laughter he brought all us, and great memories. Thank you Nye’s for providing him a place to play, which he loved so much. Nye’s will always be around in spirit.”

From “pabloblanco”: “Dad drank my college fund in Nyes. In fact, Phil remembered what he drank 30 years later when my sister and I took him for birthday lunch a few years back. All that aside, it seems like a community ownership model could be interesting.”

If this was New York, the next luxury condo developer would buy the lot and build his gilded monstrosity in the airspace above Nye’s, preserving the place as an example of what “genuine” means in practice.

My apologies for sounding glib, but I could have told you this for a lot less than $4.9 million: The AP’s Steve Karnowski reports, “A final report to the Legislature on a six-year, $4.9 million University of Minnesota study says the state’s taconite workers face higher risks from a rare form of lung cancer called mesothelioma the longer they’ve worked in the industry or if they’ve had above-average exposures to certain kinds of dust. The study assessed the risks to taconite workers from exposure to tiny, needle-like fibers called elongate mineral particles, or EMPs. Mesothelioma, a usually fatal cancer of the lung lining, is generally caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.”

This sounds fine by me. Rochelle Olson of the Strib says, “The Twins want to pump $2.5 million into Target Field to create a new ‘destination bar’ and an expanded event space before the April 13 Opening Day for the 2015 season. The team will ask for formal permission from the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, which operates the Minneapolis ballpark, at a meeting Tuesday. The Twins aren’t seeking public assistance for the projects and declined comment Monday. The bar would replace retail space on the main concourse between Gate 6 and the left-field foul pole. About 200 fans could gather at the new bar, which will be elevated, creating additional drink rows from which to see the field.”  If they made the drinks cheaper, the team on the field might look a lot better.

He/she’s back! Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “In they went, one after another. Ten bundles of Benjamins. Do the math. That’s $10,000 in crisp hundreds. For a fourth straight Christmas season, the Salvation Army is receiving these grand and anonymous gestures at their red kettles in Minnesota, but until now they had always been for $1,000. The latest and biggest of donations since they began in 2011 came Saturday at the kettle in front of the Lunds in Bloomington.”

Dan Nienaber of the Mankato Free Press says, “When Sam Thompson was interviewed by Mankato police in May shortly after his friend Isaac Kolstad was critically injured in a downtown altercation, he said the incident started with a ‘heated’ argument between Kolstad and Philip Nelson and a ‘non-fighting’ punch by Kolstad. … A surveillance video of the incident was also entered as evidence during [last week’s] hearing. Another video, which has been enhanced by Fleming, shows Kolstad throwing what Fleming describes as a ‘classic sucker punch.’ It clearly shows Kolstad threw the first punch during the incident that has left him with permanent injuries. ‘This was not a friendly punch. This took down two guys and it was a shot to Nelson’s head.’”

As usual we are just so, so shocked to hear of such things. Michael Brodkorb writes: “Since my initial post on politics.mn about the issues involving the campaign finance reports of former U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman, the story has ballooned …. Monti Moreno of Marine-on-St.-Croix and Phillip Parrish of Medford, confirmed Andy Parrish [no relation to Phillip Parrish] approached them both separately during the balloting for the Republican Party of Minnesota‘s endorsement for U.S. Senate with a request to endorse Ortman. Both said Andy Parrish voluntarily inquired of each candidate about any campaign debt they may have and the possibility of repaying some of the debt in exchange for their endorsement of Ortman. Moreno accepted the deal he claims Andy Parrish made and endorsed Ortman’s candidacy for payment of $5,000 – an amount Moreno said he never completely collected.” The issue here is that there’s a lot of overdue filing, but as for the raw pay-off-for-endorsement: if T-Paw can do it why not some local operators?   

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 12/02/2014 - 09:38 am.

    Taconite Study

    The state health department and others said exactly that seven + years ago. But the legislature in its wisdom didn’t accept that. Trying to distinguish between cancer due to asbestos exposure and cancer due to non-asbestos mineral fibers when both exposure to both is concurrent is next to impossible. 7 years ago, we knew there was a high incidence of mesothelioma and lung cancer among range taconite workers. What additional have we learned from the U’s study?

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 12/02/2014 - 10:10 am.

    My grandma and dad were Nordeasters

    when I was in undergraduate school at the U we would occasionally go to Nye’s. Many of the people knew my Grandmother and they would come over and catch up. You could just see them cozy in and we would have a wonderful time.

    I am sorry that they need to close. Shame on you Nordeaster’s and East Bankers.

  3. Submitted by jason myron on 12/02/2014 - 01:03 pm.

    Nye’s is sitting on some valuable real estate.

    I’m wondering if the owners received an offer that’s too good to turn down. I am going to miss the place, however. I’ve had many a good time there.

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