Nightingale owners will take over Dusty's Bar this spring

The beloved Northeast institution will change ownership but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

The beloved Northeast institution will change ownership but otherwise remain largely unchanged. Photo courtesy of Dusty's Facebook Page

Everyone knows the sign. And half of them know the sandwich that inspired it.

“Dusty’s Bar Homemade Dagos” is as much a part of the northeast Minneapolis landscape as the Grainbelt Beer logo.

It’s hung there a couple generations by now, and it had better always be there, right? Well, the beloved old bar serving the infamous sandwich is changing ownership at the end of May. Don't worry. The new owners say they don't have radical plans.

“I’m from Northeast, and I know how Northeasters revere their little bars,” says Carrie McCabe Johnston, who is chef/co-owner owner of the excellent south Minneapolis spot Nightingale, and now along with her business partner and husband Jasha Johnston, the upcoming refreshed Mortimer’s Bar, as well as the upcoming Tilt pinball bar.

“I’m not going to take away their beloved sandwich either,” she McCabe Johnston assures, adding that any changes at Dusty's would be "gradual." 

The couple recently struck a deal with the real estate developers who are putting a mixed-use affordable condominum unit on the corner Mortimer's occupies. That move led to some rumors that Dusty's would be "closing," though a story in Finance and Commerce (paywall only) puts that rumor to rest.

The developer, CPM Companies, is seeking approval from the City of Minneapolis for a six-story, 110-unit apartment building in the lot next to Dusty's; a city planning commission is scheduled to consider that proposal on Monday.

In taking over Mortimer's (where Jasha Johnston has continued working as a bartender since opening Nightingale) the Johnstons agreed to keep the bar as a traditional amenity for the neighborhood that has supported it for decades. They've made a similar deal with CPM in northeast, to keep Dusty's going, and keep it how customers like it. (Would that someone could have done a similar bit of thinking with Nye's Polonaise room, which met its fate last year). 

The couple has a strong affinity for New Orleans, and Nightingale certainly takes some subtle inspiration from that city for its vibe and menu. 

That connection means Dusty’s regulars might see some po’ boys, or red beans and rice added to the gumbo already on the menu, but aside from that, not too much will change. They did buy a fryer, however, as the bar's kitchen has, unbelievably, gone this long with out one.

The live music will also remain, including some of the beloved regular bands. If anything, McCabe Johnston says, they’ll grow the live music program. And they’ll still hold the Friday meat raffle, too.

Mccabe Johnston doesn't expect to add a cocktail list, or anything like that. Not necessary: “People go in there because they want a High Life and a Jameson or something simple, and we plan to keep it that way. We just want to respect what it already is.”

The bar will change hands at the end of May.

1319 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis