Gluek's is one of those places that has been a part of the scenery in downtown Minneapolis for so long that it has begun to disappear into the backdrop--but it's a resilient fixture to be sure. The stone façade, vaulted ceilings, and detailed woodwork give the accurate impression of a place that has a lot of history. Built in 1902, the Gluek Building has been home to a bar and restaurant for nearly a century. After struggling through Prohibition, the business was sold in 1933 to the family that has owned it--through four generations--ever since. Tragically, a fire gutted the building in 1989 leaving nothing but the walls. It was reconstructed immediately and designed to recreate the original design as closely as possible. To this day, Gluek's feels so much like an old German beer hall you wouldn't know you were in Minneapolis in the 21st century if it weren't for the televisions and the view of Jimmy John's on 6th street behind the stage.
If those walls could talk, huh? Alas, they can't, but one of the bartenders shared a few charming stories with me. One Friday night, members of the cast of Phantom of the Opera ended up participating in the live karaok. And apparently, someone stole a large deer head off one of the walls and darted out the back door weeks before the '89 fire and got away. Shortly after the reopening, the taxidermal trophy appeared anonymously outside the front door of the bar. Awwww...
Live music has been a relatively recent addition to the culture at Gluek's. For about a decade now the stage at Gluek's--handsomely propped up in the front window under a grand, stained-glass banner--has featured standing gigs for Minneapolis favorites such as Billy Johnson's Roadshow, Hookers and Blow, and--currently--live karaoke with The Buzz and Alex Rossi and the Root City Band. The Root City Band has been pleasing downtown audiences for nearly 5 years now with their high-energy soul/blues/rock n' roll. There's nothing mind-bending about them, but with a sharp horn section and vocalist/looper Heatbox in the mix, they have a few trick up their sleeves.
More of a gathering spot with live music enhancement than a club, Gluek's encourages its role as an accessory to your complete downtown experience. The calendar behind the bar counting down the seconds until opening day at the Twins' Target Field and the inclusion of major events at Target Center on their own event schedule demonstrate that Gluek's doesn't expect you to spend your whole night there. But booking good local bands like Alex Rossi and the Root City Band is an added incentive to include Gluek's in your plans, and a worthwhile one at that.
16 North 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403