How many combination bar/restaurateur/theater owners does the Twin Cities have? Not too many.
While Bedlam Theatre operates as a nonprofit, the many properties-owning restaurateur of note Kim Bartmann has been quietly consulting with them since the beginning. Bedlam and Bryant-Lake Bowl went into business during the same year, 23 years ago. Call them sisters from another mister. Sideways half siblings with the same awesomely quirky ambitions: to bring experimental theater to the masses, one cocktail at a time.
But Bedlam's new Lowertown location has been struggling, pretty publicly. Too publicly, says Bartmann, who says "People are acting like they're already closed, and I don't think that's happening."
So in the coming months, she'll be throwing her support and expertise behind their concert program. "They've got an awesome sound system," she says, and she'll help book some big music shows in October, as well as go into a more official partnership with their two theaters. For instance, performances might begin at the 90-seat BLB and then as they get bigger and more popular, move over to the 150-seat Bedlam, which is a pretty large venue for theater, locally. Bartmann will also be assisting in growing and improving the Bedlam's food and beverage programs.
"Hopefully I can help people gain some confidence that Bedlam can just bounce right back," she said. "They're in their first year, and not all places are financially on their feet in the first year." Bartmann also spoke to the rapid growth of Lowertown, but said the "habitrails aren't really established yet," meaning all the growth is still a little new for the general public to have integrated the many new establishments into their daily routines yet.
"I can sit in Saint Dinette and look out the window and not even care about anything else. That view makes me feel like I'm in a grownup city." But she says it might take the public a while to grasp that idea that Lowertown has grown up.