The iconic Nicollet Diner is in the process of expanding to a new location, with Roxy’s Cabaret moving in too. In other words, we all win.
If I had a dollar for every chocolate chip pancake I’ve had at The Nicollet Diner, I’d be able to order a lot more chocolate chip pancakes. I’m a diehard breakfast fan. I love mornings because it means it’s time for breakfast. I’m known for making egg sandwiches for lunch. I love a good pancake dinner. If you’re anything like me, you know that breakfast is an anytime meal — whether it’s 8 a.m., 8 p.m., or any time in between.
The Nicollet Diner has this same philosophy. Serving breakfast twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, The Nicollet Diner is a go-to spot for every breakfast food craving, hangover, drunk night, or need for delicious, but affordable, comfort food. The restaurant is a staple of Nicollet Avenue, in fact it’s often used as a landmark when giving directions in the area. The iconic diner recently announced that it’s moving to the former Ichibahn location, but don’t worry, it’s just down the block.
“After we decided to expand our operations by purchasing the former Ichibahn building, we determined the best concept for the space would be to move The Nicollet Diner as an anchor and expand the existing concept to include the Cabaret theater, lounge space, and rooftop patio elements,” says Sam Turner, owner of The Nicollet Diner. “We are excited about this expansion and sincerely appreciate the support of the community!”
The relocation of The Nicollet Diner will allow Muffin Top Café to gain additional space for seating, and the remaining space will be reinvented to be more bar-centric with a menu of pizza, broasted Chicken, subs, and other street fare.
“We are optimistic that this fast casual concept, focused on food that travels well and supports the market shift in demand to more take out and delivery orders will allow the diner’s former location to thrive under its new concept and offering,” Turner says. “Aside from the address, we don’t anticipate many drastic changes to the concept, design or operation of The Nicollet Diner itself, and it will continue to operate twenty-four hours. The menu will further expanded to include a dinner menu as well as elevated cocktail and bar menu to support the cabaret, lounge, and rooftop elements of the concept.”
Turner says they’ve recruited an amazing executive chef to assist in the growth and expansion of their operations, and they will stay committed to fresh ingredients, big portions, recipes from scratch, and a diverse menu.
“We are adding elements to the concept that we feel will allow it to grow to become among the most iconic venues downtown Minneapolis has to offer,” he adds.
The Nicollet Diner’s new location will also be home to Roxy’s Cabaret, the “ultimate entertainment destination,” according to Jamie Olsen, a.k.a. Nina DiAngelo.
“Our core concept will be female impersonation/celebrity lookalike-based shows. Whether you are celebrating, or just having a night on the town, our goal is to take your event from special to spectacular. In addition, we will feature a variety of other forms of entertainment, including comedy, live music, bingo, charitable events, themed brunches, featured entertainers from across the country, and of course your ‘local favorites,'” DiAngelo says.
DiAngelo says she was approached by Sam and Dion Turner in early 2019 about partnering in a new concept in the Twin Cities. “Sam has known for many years that my goal was to one day open my own cabaret. I had moved to St. Louis in 2017 to manage and direct shows at the new Hamburger Mary’s there. So the idea of moving back to the Cities so soon was rather daunting,” she says. “However, the opportunity was right in line with personal goals that I’ve set for myself and in many levels, this was a chance to make a dream come true. So I packed up my baby girl Lucy (my ten-year-old English bulldog), and here we are!”
In the midst of planning the new concept, DiAngelo lost a very dear friend and legend in the Minneapolis/Midwest community, Roxy Marquis, to cancer. “It quickly became clear to us that our vision would be a great vehicle to pay homage to her and the fabulous legacy that was her career. Not to mention, the name “Roxy” in itself is sexy, bold, sophisticated, and elegant. All things that she was and all the things our new space will emulate.”
The property will also be home to a 3,000 square foot indoor/outdoor rooftop bar and a seasonal third-level “sky-deck,” which will provide great views of downtown Minneapolis. The 120-seat cabaret, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, will offer a modern sophisticated experience, DiAngelo says.
“Roxy’s is for everyone. We will not get tangled in labels, genres, or demographics. Life is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs an escape. Our goal is to be that experience, for all,” she says.