First look: Bull's Horn is an awful lot like the Sunrise Inn you're familiar with

There's less nicotine on the walls... otherwise, Bull's Horn doesn't have too many aesthetic differences from its predecessor.

There's less nicotine on the walls... otherwise, Bull's Horn doesn't have too many aesthetic differences from its predecessor. Emily Cassel

When Bull's Horn opens in the old Sunrise Inn building on October 31, Doug Flicker expects he’ll be getting a lot of what-took-you-so-longs from the people gathered at the bar.

Not that he'll blame anyone for wondering. On the surface, his bar is almost identical to its predecessor. 

The Esker Grove chef and his wife/partner Amy Greeley announced that they were buying the building that housed the Sunrise -- one of the last 3.2 bars in the Twin Cities -- back in February. And it isn't like they've been sitting around doing nothing over the last eight months, it’s just that most of that time was spent on behind-the-scenes stuff: new kitchens, new plumbing, new wiring.

Other than scrubbing nicotine from the walls and blasting literal elbow grease from the bar, Flicker and Greely have made hardly any cosmetic updates to the space.

“I hope that when people walk in, it looks familiar,” Flicker says. “I want you to step through the doors and go back in time. That’s why we all go to a bar like this.”

Of course, not everything is the same. You’ll be happy to hear the bathrooms have been fully upgraded. (Or maybe you won’t; Flicker himself doesn't love how incongruous the clean white tile is with the rest of the space -- there are stickers and Sharpies in its future.)

Hello, beautiful.

Hello, beautiful. Emily Cassel

Oh, and then there’s the pièce de résistance: a 1971 Wurlitzer Zodiac, all tuned up and ready to spin 45s from REO Speedwagon, the Rolling Stones, Joy Division -- and the Replacements and Hüsker Dü, obviously. Three plays for a quarter, seven for 50 cents.

A 3.2 bar no longer, Bull’s Horn is stocked with a balance of old and new brews -- Indeed and Fulton (served in old-school pilsner glasses; you won't find a lot of pint glasses here), along with Coors Banquet and Mickey's in those classic grenade bottles.

Food-wise, the sandwich-heavy menu has burgers, bologni, BBQ, roast beef -- all that good stuff. You'll be able to eat not one but two styles of pizza burger -- Flicker and Greely can't agree whether the fixins should go on top of or inside the patty, so they're serving his and hers versions. And speaking of pizza: Yes, there's Heggies. No surprise there, given that Flicker -- known acolyte of the beloved bar pizza brand -- is helping them develop new flavors.

Otherwise, it’s the same ol’ Sunrise, just a little bit prettier. The warm wooden 70-year-old bar and bar backs are still there. The cigarette burns all over them are still there. The booths? Red vinyl chairs? Dents in the wood-paneled walls from rogue billiard balls? Still there. There's even gonna be a staffed pull-tab booth.

There’s also a bar cooking area much like the corner griddle at Matt's -- and Flicker hints that he might be calling on some old friends about doing behind-the-bar pop-ups soon.

The Bull's Horn building has been a bar since 1935, even before it became the Sunrise in the mid-'50s. And more than anything, Flicker hopes to honor that history, to keep the character of the place intact.

“It’s really cool to go into a space and not turn it into something else,” he says. “This -- it’s just a matter of making what it already is better.”

Bull's Horn
4563 S. 34th Ave., Minneapolis