Uh, this call’s coming from inside the house. City Pages editor in chief Em Cassel once sent your author a semi-conspiratorial text to the tune of, “Why is there a ship in the Newsroom?”
Great question, boss! For those unfamiliar, downtown Minneapolis is home to a newspaper-themed bar-and-restaurant, and there’s an extremely large ship inside. That’s pretty much all the background you need on this one.
The answer isn’t immediately evident, because, uh, no one we know has ever had their morning paper delivered via schooner (and yes, we know at least two people who live on houseboats). Pirates aren’t exactly known for their reading habits, either. And as the Star Tribune's bastards, we assure you we would have commandeered theirs by now, if only there were one…
Clearly, Minneapolis’s newspaper-themed bar on Nicollet Mall must have previously been a Rainforest Cafe (or something), right?
“Sometimes I tell people this used to be a Long John Silver’s,” says Jen Karon, the Newsroom’s assistant general manager. “But no, it’s original to the bar.”
Apparently all the restaurant’s rooms are themed to match your average newspaper’s sections. The “Business Section” has a stock market ticker tape snaking above the tables, while the “Sports Section” has so, so many flat screen TVs tuned to games and SportsCenter and *fingers crossed* the spelling bee. The walls of each room are papered with old, black-and-white news clippings blown up to roughly 10 million percent, too. Faces of historical figures loom scary-large, staring at you while you eat.
Still: None of this explains why there’s a (gorgeous) 32-foot schooner in the bar.
“This is the ‘Travel Section,’” she explains, for probably the millionth time. “It was built as a conversation piece.” Looking up, plane pieces also dangle from the ceiling. Press highlights from the past century, blown up to wall-size, feature locomotive highlights like breakthroughs in steam travel and feats of motorcycling—but as diners struggle with reading a menu, this often goes unnoticed.
People constantly take pictures, and ask about the boat, but Karon doesn’t mind. Other popular questions include: Do bartenders actually climb the ladders to the top of the mast? “Yes, we keep our top-shelf liquor up there. One side of the ship is all single malt scotch.” (For her part, Karon says she’s more than “six years strong” in not making it past the second rung due to her fear of heights.)
If customers don’t immediately understand how the ship fits in a newspaper-themed joint, Karon actually understands. She gestures to a massive clipping (including huge portrait) of Charles Manson near the door, positioned within sight of the bar.
“I mean, he’s not ‘Travel.’”
990 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
In Hey, What’s the Deal With... we’re tackling everyday oddities, random curiosities, and what-the-actual-fuck mysteries about life in the Twin Cities. Got a pressing but somewhat trivial Q about something you saw, heard, or thought about while stuck in traffic? Email [email protected], and our crack investigative team just might try to figure it out.
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