Primbar at Lake and Hennepin in Uptown Minneapolis Closes Abruptly
A lot of people sound genuinely surprised that Primebar closed Sunday night. For my part, I am not sure how to feel…perhaps a tinge of guilt, maybe. I have given up (most) drinking and bar-sitting for the Lenten Drinking Sabbatical Challenge.
(Every dollar counts, including mine, and think of all the other people who don’t bother to go out when I am at home. Explains my guilty feeling.)
All joking aside, I’ll just say what too many people seem unwilling to say: Primebar was a bore. Even on those occasions when people almost filled the place, it had no life, no personality.
If you’re going to fleece someone for a drink, you better have more than the drink you’re serving to justify your place in town. Primebar didn’t have it.
I don’t know…Did Figlio lose money? I doubt it. That place didn’t change anything other than toilet paper and light bulbs after it opened! It was a popular, high-volume, high-energy kind of a place, a unique cross of neighborhood bar, restaurant, and nightspot. Swingers mingled with your retired neighbor. It was fun.
It was consistent, too; consistently reliable from the kitchen to the bar. The staff was friendly, familiar, and just jaded enough to keep things down to earth and real.
Primebar had none of this.
Furthermore, in my humble opinion, Primebar got off to a bad start. It didn’t understand that corner. Like it or not, whatever would follow there would have a big hole to fill. Il Gatto missed on a few points, but it had the dynamic right. Primebar, on the other hand, seemed to go out of its way to miss the point.
Here’s the deal…if you want to open a successful bar and restaurant in that space, especially with cliché’s like Bar Louie popping up in town, cater first to the neighborhood and the rest will follow. That means good value served in a design conducive to mingling and watching.
Then throw a party! Get people in the door early, impress them, give them a reason to come back. Primebar mistakenly thought people would be come to them and shower the place with generous gratitude just for being there. That was a mistake. And it was a mistake they didn’t fix, they experimented instead. By that time people were gone…to Bar Louie. And elsewhere. (To be fair.)
I would like to see a local independent turn that place around, but it sounds like the landlord expects a premium that likely won’t fit an independent concept. (Perhaps we have a landlord problem, too…) It is a big and expensive space. So we might have to look elsewhere for concepts.
I lived in Arizona for a few years. One thing they do well in Arizona is fill premium space like Calhoun Square‘s big, desirable corner well. Don’t choke on your local cuisine, but a concept like a Redstone or an Ike’s — injected with some cliché mitigation — might fit nicely in this large, high-rent space. Whatever it is, if it doesn’t cater first to the boozing and dining neighborhood foot traffic, I don’t think it is going to catch fire.
Learn from the aloof mistakes Primebar made. Or better yet, remember your history. What was there that worked well for 25 years? We haven’t forgotten, have we?
My two cents.
- Primebar closes Calhoun Square restaurant (bizjournals.com)
- Lenten Sabbatical: An Update (alittletourinyellow.wordpress.com)
- Drinking Days and an Anything is Possible Week Update (alittletourinyellow.wordpress.com)