A consistently excellent Minneapolis restaurant is taking over one of the city's most consistently difficult spots to run one.
Monday afternoon, Lotus Restaurant confirmed it's opening a second location in the Hennepin Avenue building previously occupied by Game Sports Bar, the short-run, ill-fated gay sports bar. Opened just last summer, Game replaced the also short-run, ill-fated Salsa a la Salsa, which had, in turn, taken over for the similarly short-lived Boneyard.
The Lotus, by contrast, is one of the oldest, longest-running names in local Vietnamese cooking, with a longstanding and beloved location in Loring Park. The venerable favorite has had other locations over the years as well, including in Uptown. Sometime in mid-March, they're coming back.
According to a press release:
"The new Lotus Uptown location will feature the popular menu of Lotus Downtown, which includes pho, classic Vietnamese dishes and other Asian specialties favored by their customer base. Lotus Uptown menu will follow principles that have guided Lotus Downtown— fresh, seasonal ingredients, no MSG, no frills, a focus on good, clean food."
Sounds like a refreshing addition to the neighborhood.
Other features to look forward to, per the announcement: "weekly/daily" specials, as dreamed up by Van Vo, affectionately known as "Mama Lotus"; banh mi, spring rolls, and bubble tea available for takeout; a full bar; and, after 10 p.m., a "late night food menu."
Lotus Uptown will open at 11:00 a.m. for lunch service every day, and close at 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, with a bar close of 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Lotus' management thinks there's nothing wrong with the heavily trafficked area, and that any flaws lied with their predecessors' attempts to reach out to the neighborhood. Lotus, meanwhile, will not be changing its style just to fit in.
"Despite approaches taken by previous tenants," reads the announcement, "such as The Game and Boneyard, both of which appealed to an Uptown party scene, Lotus Uptown will focus on building community. The Nguyens hope instead to support a family-focused, neighborhood environment."