Game Sports Bar was a good idea.
A gay sports bar, huh? Cool concept.
And a welcome addition to the Uptown Minneapolis area, where both sports-oriented televisions and LGBTQ-idenfitied businesses were largely absent.
When Game opened on Hennepin Aveune last summer, it made some quick fans, unlike predecessors Salsa a la Salsa (2015-16) and Boneyard (2014-15) neither of which won favor with food critics -- or Uptown's eaters.
Game, by comparison, seemed like a breath of fresh air back in August:
The requisite framed sports jerseys grace the walls, and the usual flat-panel televisions decorate the bar and are scattered around the room -- 20 in all. While most of the screens were tuned to various sporting events, others scrolled through photos of nearly naked athletes showing off their long (hockey) sticks and holding strategically placed – ahem – balls, helmets, and towels. Female athletes were on display as well, although vastly outnumbered by the beefcakes...
The large bar is the focus of the room, and the drinks, with cheeky names like Blow by Blow and Below the Belt, were well executed by knowledgeable and personable bartenders under the direction of Ralena Young, formerly of Coup d’Etat.
Also on offer: Upper-middle-brow bar bites, plus a bartender clad in only a Speedo. Fun!
While it lasted, anyway.
Multiple employees tell City Pages a change in management and/or concept is imminent.
On Friday, management told staffers the bar would be closing Monday through Thursday immediately and indefinitely; the news was met with tears and concern from the staff, according to one employee.
On Tuesday, a sign on Game's front door announced its new "Winter Hours," which run from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday... and that's it.
Rumors among workers and on social media indicated this past Sunday's Super Bowl was the bar's last hurrah.
An employee shared with City Pages an email reportedly sent to all staff on Monday, February 6, from the current general manager. He informed recipients that the bar was going to change concept -- to "a Lotus restaurant," seemingly a reference to the popular long-time Vietnamese spot in Loring Park -- but would continue operating on weekends as Game Sports Bar for the time being.
Owner Steve Hark, also involved in ownership at Fine Line Music Cafe and Aqua, did not respond to repeated requests for comment or clarification. City Pages will update this post as more information becomes available.
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