Tim Rooney was a behind-the-scenes guy.
And by "flitting around," I mean holding down the bar and buying a round, always with a twinkle in his eye. His one-time business partner chef Jack Riebel, who brought the kitchen at Butcher and the Boar to greatness, called Rooney a “sweetheart.”
It’s why so many in the restaurant biz today are going about their business with heavy hearts.
Rooney died recently, according to Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine's Stephanie March, who knew Rooney personally; no age or cause of death was given.
Shawn “Shawngirl” Tierney, a local career bartender who's worked just about everywhere, knew Rooney for decades, since the days when they were both servers at the old Manny's Steakhouse in the Hyatt Hotel on Nicollet Mall.
Rooney "liked a drink," like many in the food and drink business, and "always had a smart remark" during meetings, enough to get Tierney laughing, and both of them in trouble.
“He was just one of those guys that, when you looked at him, you knew there was going to be shenanigans," Tierney says. "He had that Irish humor. Whenever I was having a hard day at work, he always had something highly inappropriate [and hilarious] to say. He was Rooney.”
By all accounts, Rooney was a self-made man. “I didn’t realize how talented he was until he and his brother started rehabbing buildings downtown,” Tierney remembered.
Ben Quam, former manager of The Exchange nightclub and lifelong bartender, said Rooney made his places feel like a second home. “His laugh, his aura. . . his focus on whiskey, craft beer, and meat, without a hint of pretension.”
Quam said that Rooney’s particular vision -- precision meets utter lack of pretension -- ushered in a tide change in local restaurants and bars.
Lots of people in thoses restaurants and bars will be heartily toasting Rooney this weekend and beyond.