Lush Food Bar, the newest Twin Cities GLBT club, debuted July 31 in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s across the street from Tickles, which opened last November. Lush is the brainchild of owners Ty Hoffman and Kelly Phillips, who are life partners as well.
Hoffman says, “We wanted to create an open, fun environment. The old Healy Spring Company building, with high ceilings and bay garage door openings, provided the opportunity to do the open feel with the glass garage doors. We want ‘Lush’ to describe the experience—rich, sumptuous! We want to get people out a little earlier, enjoy a few drinks and a bite to eat with friends, and then see where the night goes from there.”
Lush and Tickles, along with nearby Wilde Roast Café, definitely make Northeast a destination spot for the GLBT community.
Hoffman explains, “We really like being a part of Northeast Minneapolis. We live a few blocks away, and are really committed to the neighborhood—we wanted to invest in it. We also think that, like us, there are a lot of people who would rather not fight the crowds and traffic of Downtown Minneapolis. Lush gives them a nice alternative.”
The owners of Lush aim to attract a diverse clientele, as Hoffman shares: “We love the Abby in West Hollywood, and had it in mind. They bring in a great mix of gays and lesbians, with a nice mix straight folks on the side. We are very straight-friendly.”
Lush’s ambience certainly lives up to the bar’s name.
Hoffman notes, “The exterior is, frankly, a rather squat, ’70s-era brick building that originally housed a truck repair shop. But there was also a real beauty in the simplicity of the building. The main room of the restaurant/bar is in the large, three-bay room where the trucks were put on lifts for repair.
“The room, with 24-foot ceilings, is anchored by a large bar in the middle. Modern Italian chairs/tables circle the bar, and retro wood booths salvaged from a bowling alley line the outer walls.
It is has a modern/industrial feel, but the trio of Chihuly-esque chandeliers over the bar lends a softer, alluring element. The large, 20-foot high glass garage door is usually open, giving the whole place an outdoor feel.”
Speaking of outdoor, Hoffman adds, “The exterior is coming together. We have a small, covered patio area right off of the main room. We plan to expand that with a larger, more elaborate patio, with more plants, trees, flowers, and seating. We plan to make that a very rich, plush area. We will also continue to plant all around the building.”
Patrons will find plenty of fun activities to keep them coming back to Lush.
Hoffman relates, “We plan to offer a variety of types of entertainment, including live music, and some drag shows eventually. We also will have mixing artists spinning at various times in the week. We plan to offer an eclectic array of entertainment.”
Food is a major component of Lush, so hungry patrons will enjoy the creations of Chef Karla Schmitt.
According to Hoffman, “We are starting with a more limited menu. The kitchen is small, but efficient. We have a number of different salads and appetizers, plus Angus burgers and a few other sandwiches. We have a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM, featuring various egg dishes, French toast, and sandwiches. We also have a bottomless Champagne Mimosa menu brunch both afternoons for $20. It’s a great deal!”
Nonprofit fund-raising will be a major focus of Lush, and Hoffman states, “We are very committed to both the GLBT community and the neighborhood. We will be hosting various fund-raising events for both communities—that is really very important to us.”
What does the future hold in store for Lush?
Hoffman puts it this way, “As is the case with all new independent venues, this is a work-in-progress. We will be continually fine-tuning the interior elements. The menu will expand, and we’ll get to the live performances very soon. Right now, we’re happy to be open, but we definitely have many more things to add. Oh, and the patio—it’s going to be fabulous!”
990 central ave. ne, mpls.