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


Judging from the social media outcry when Northeast drinking institution Nye's Poloniase Room announced it would be closing next fall, the public can't imagine a world without the singular mash-up that is polka, piano bar, classic cocktails, and Kielbasa.

Weirdly charming as that combo is -- all set in a pitch-perfect 1950s time-capsule dining room that's never been touched by a remodel -- a place for every occasion it isn't. Owners Rob and Tony Jacob say business just isn't what it needs to be to keep the doors open.

As patrons, we love to love our relics -- last year's shuttering of Peter's Grill, after 99 years in business, inspired similar cries of woe. And yet, when did we really eat one of their open-face turkey sandwiches with a side of canned peaches and cottage cheese? Rarely.

See also: Nye's Polonaise Room Will Close

But these places exist near and dear to our hearts, like old lovers and times gone by. It's not just the memories; we like who we were when we were there, way back when.

And we only wish we would have fully appreciated them before they wrote their Dear John letters, packed their bags, and hit the road.


A few social media gems, complete with the employment of emojis, fully illustrate how deep this cuts.

Many remember it fondly as a site for first dates, the way they fell in love at the bar, proposed there, or got married there. It was a place for occasions, whether special or "special," a no-judgement hang for debauchery, drunken dancing, and belting out whatever that third martini moved you to butcher at the piano bar.

Hell, even I had a great first date at Nye's: The guy was a professional singer, and in retrospect, what an astute choice of locales it really was. What better way to get into a girl's bloomers than gaze into her eyes and softly croon Sinatra?

But second only to the lamentations are the firm missives of realists -- those with no stomach for saccharine remembrances and nostalgic gazes through rose-colored glasses. Some even lambasted the place for being outdated and in dire need of a makeover, and for serving overpriced food and drink.

And you know, they've got a point. How often do you get the urge for Pierogi, cabbage rolls, and prime rib that go into the $20 and $30 range?

Inevitably, the hand-wringing has a particular villain in its gaze: real estate developers. Even though the Jacob brothers have gone on record as saying they have not been specifically approached by developers and such matters are not the reason for closing, speculation continues as to what sort of soulless coffee shop, frat-boy sports bar, or slick condo development will take over the prime real estate at the foot of the Hennepin Avenue bridge, overlooking the river.

UPDATE: The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal has reported that Nye's owners Tony and Rob Jacob will partner with developer Schafer Richardson to build high rise apartments on the site of the storied Northeast bar and restaurant.

Local restaurateur John Rimarcik, who owns the Monte Carlo -- another beloved landmark -- as well as Rachel's, located down the street from Nye's, was quoted in the Star Tribune as saying that the move will be a huge blow to the overall feel of East Hennepin.

Join the discussion on the Save Nye's Polonaise Facebook Community Page.

There's already a group planning to storm the place in a show of good consumerism in the form of drinking up. You may raise a glass with them on Saturday, December 6, which they're calling "Save Nye's Polonaise Day." The bar opens at 11 a.m.

Send your story tips to Hot Dish.