Why I Will Not Miss Nye's Polonaise Room



Earlier this week, news broke that Nye's Polonaise Room would be closing next year. Not long after, it came to light that the owners would be partnering with a development company to build apartments or condos on the existing site after demolishing the current building.

People (including my editor) are sad about it and declared it the end of an era, the further destruction of old Minneapolis, etc. I am not one of those people.

See also:
World's Most Dangerous Polka Band Staying at Nye's Until It Closes

When the lights are extinguished for the last time at Nye's I won't shed a tear about it. Where others saw a throwback to a golden age, I saw kitsch. Where others saw class, I saw a privileged sort of surliness. The staff was never friendly, always acting like we were too young or underdressed or who knows what, but I never felt welcome there.

The World's Most Dangerous Polka Band was always a big draw (and legitimately fun as hell) but it seemed the staff only wanted the older folks to dance -- I was asked to "go sit in your seat" more than once in that narrow back bar.

Even when it was "busy" on Friday or Saturday nights, half of the back restaurant was closed off. Only if the front was overflowing would we be lucky enough to get that small bar in back open for a little while to ease congestion up front.


See also:
Closing of Nye's Polonaise Room Inspires Citywide Heartache, Mourning, Sniping

The drinks are priced in an odd way: $5.65 or $3.80 or what-have-you. It's not so bad because it gets the servers a bit of extra cash over the course of the night -- nobody wants to go home with a pocket full of nickels -- but you never get to give the servers the change. They've always just kept it.

I'm not going to whine about being swindled out of what amounts to about $1.50 over the course of a night but it'd be nice if they didn't just expect the guests were just going to hand it all over. My issue hasn't ever been the money itself but the handling of it.

[page] Also, can we talk about the ambience in there for a minute? OK, I like Sinatra, too, but not for the entire night. Yes, Nye's looks like it's from the '50s or early '60s, a mob heyday to be sure, but the decor always reminded more of the semi-dingy restaurant they frequent (and where Sharon Stone first cheats with Joe Pesci) in Casino than any of the classier places you can think of in a canonical mob movie.

The gold vinyl seats are fun, but look closer: They're really worn and really in poor taste. The floor in the back bar reminds me of the asbestos-filled tile you used to see in elementary schools. The light fixtures are mid-mod but not noteworthy.

I wanted to be sad upon hearing the news about Nye's this week. I really did. But I kept rolling it over in my brain and realized that I just didn't care. I haven't been in there in years and while, admittedly, I'm sure I'll pop in a time or two before they close, I won't miss it like I miss the Uptown, like I miss the 501, like I miss Cause (though a reprieve is in the offing) and a few other places around town that all closed seemingly before their time should have been up.

To be clear, I think Nye's had its time in the sun. It should be respected, but we needn't miss it. All the fun that was to be had inside its walls has already been had. Visit in the next few months and pay your respects, but if you're like me, you won't feel bad.

See also:
A Night at Nye's: Toasting the Past with the Regulars


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