BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--ST. PAUL - 2004
Sure you've heard all about Arnellia's lately. You've read about the Cameroonian immigrant who was gunned down there by some knucklehead one early Friday morning in February for no reason whatsoever. And about the St. Paul cop who subsequently lost his job because he purportedly fled the scene of the shooting instead of lending a hand. The tragic incident put an unfortunate black mark on a St. Paul watering hole that's worked diligently to clean up its reputation as a trouble spot in recent years. But we say, don't give up on Arnellia's just yet. This University Avenue club, one of the few black-owned bars in the Twin Cities, was started more than a decade ago by Mississippi native and former factory worker Arnellia Allen. Since the shuttering of the Riverview Supper Club in late 2000, it's really the only bar in the Twin Cities that qualifies as an African American institution. The crowd it generally attracts is more top hats than baggy pants. In the daylight hours the "club Apollo of Minnesota" is a laid-back lounge that serves up generous drinks, outrageously good chicken wings, catfish strips, and a few other soul food staples. At night the live music takes over. Occasionally big-name blasts from the past, like Bobby "Blue" Bland or Alexander O'Neal, grace Arnellia's stage, but most nights it's a mix of stellar local R & B, jazz acts, and DJs spinning old-school soul.