Bar near St. Paul's future soccer stadium to be revamped
By FREDERICK MELO
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Wes Burdine is a musician, publisher, technical writer and soccer aficionado.
You can soon add bar owner to his resume. Burdine, who chronicles the exploits of the Minnesota United FC on the podcast FiftyFive.One, is buying the Town House Bar, a few blocks from his home and near St. Paul's future Major League Soccer stadium.
Burdine said he plans to rebrand it the "Black Hart of St. Paul" and give the popular dive bar a bit more of a sportsman's theme over the coming months, but "it will distinctly not be a sports bar. It will have kind of a North Woods eclectic vibe. . There's not going to be major renovations on it."
Holly Monnett had owned the Town House more than 40 years and was looking to sell to a local buyer, Burdine told the St. Paul Pioneer Press .
"There had been lots of offers to demolish it and turn it into a Dairy Queen or something like that," said Burdine, who had visited every bar in the Midway looking for the right location, "and I called her up and she said this is the phone call I've been waiting for."
He'll even broadcast his FiftyFive.One podcast from the bar during the World Cup in June. He expects to close on the sale the week of June 11.
One thing that isn't going away is the gay-friendly vibe. As much as bingo and wine giveaways, the Town House has generated a following for its drag show competitions, themed karaoke nights and showings of VH1's "RuPaul's Drag Race" on a wide screen.
That content will continue, said Burdine, though there will be less of it due to overlap with soccer matches and broadcasts.
"We will still cater heavily to the LGBTQ+ community, including most of the existing regular events," Burdine said. "It's the oldest gay bar in St. Paul, and it's important to me that we don't mess with that, and that it stay home to people for whom it's been home a long time."
The evolution of the Town House is just the latest change coming to University Avenue's bar scene. Facing disciplinary action from the city after a series of run-ins with police, Hot Rods Bar and Grill recently called it quits a block over at 1553 University Ave. W., and the building has been put up for sale.
Arnellia's, a jazz bar at 1183 University Ave. W., recently ended its 25-year run, closing its doors following the death of its owner.
In addition, Tracks Bar shuttered its location at the Days Inn Motel, 1964 University Ave. W., and relocated to Rice Street. The University Avenue space is up for lease.
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About nine blocks south of University and Snelling avenues, O'Gara's Bar recently announced that it would downsize, shedding bar space to add housing overhead in a new mixed-use building.
Minnesota United is about halfway through construction of the $200 million stadium, which will open its doors to some 20,000 fans within a year.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com