Dear diners of Uptown Minneapolis:
Say goodbye to chicken wings, and hello to burgers.
Country Bar will close after this Saturday night's service, owner Todd Smith confirmed to City Pages Tuesday. Smith has reached a deal to lease the building to Blue Door Pub, which will bring its popular, burger-centric menu to the space some time later this year.
Smith, who has also co-owned the Nomad World Pub in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, bought Country Bar in spring 2015, by which time the well-known Uptown dive had already been empty for some time.
It reopened in early 2016, with a decidedly polished look and more of a full kitchen operation. (Previously, Country Bar orders were whipped up behind the bar.) That kitchen still made the beloved Shorty & Wags fried chicken wings, a holdover from the previous iteration, which, Smith laments, are probably a goner. He expects to see a traditional "Blue Door menu" when the restarurant reopens for business.
Blue Door's management could not be reached for comment.
Smith says representatives from that restaurant group -- which also runs Blue Door Pubs in St. Paul, in the Longfellow neighborhood and in southeast Como -- approached him and asked if he would consider leasing the space.
"What they suggested made a whole lot of sense," Smith says. "What they can generate in terms of food... a space that small, it just really needs to be well-utilized all the time. With the dynamics of Uptown, to have the space consistently busy, would be a great utlization."
The busy Lyn-Lake neighborhood has seen a few rounds of turnover lately, and the new Blue Door will soon be joined by a "Great Northern Smokehouse" just down the block.
Smith says they're planning for a November 1 opening date for the newest Blue Door. Country Bar staff learned of the imminent change recently, and Smith says he believes Blue Door might be looking to rehire some of those employees.
"It's a really great staff, that will land on their feet," Smith says.
Smith, for his part, says he'd like to find a way to keep the chicken wing operation going in another location -- "I would love to have those chicken wings available in south Minneapolis," he says -- though that's a future matter. For the moment, he's hoping regulars are interested in another round of wings, and whatever they care to wash it down with.
"It's been really fun, and a privilege to work with the great group of people that I have," Smith says. "And if the people who've enjoyed the Country Bar want to check it out one more time before it closes down, that would be lovely."
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