The rumors, the gossip, and the wild speculation about Mell's Beauty Bar have been rampant all summer: There's going to be a new bar? And you can get a manicure while you have a cosmo? And a massage? And it's a wine bar? In an alley? Or someplace? And massage tables? And you drink your martini through a straw in the hole where your face goes?
I just knew, I knew this couldn't be right, because we do not live in Los Angeles. Heck, as far as I can make out, we don't even live in San Diego.
We live in the kind of sensible-shoe land where nearly anyone could list the number of solid and defensible reasons our culture keeps our fingernail-enhancing petrochemicals and our foodstuffs on separate tables.
So by the time I got Laura Mell on the phone, I was pretty much chomping at the bit to get some level of verifiable detail about this fantasy land. Instead, I learned how you can generate buzz in a particularly girl guerrilla genius way.
"What about a DJ? Should I have a DJ? Or acoustic guitar? What about smoking?" asked Mell. "Wouldn't it be a blast to hang out with your friends after work and have cosmos while everybody's getting their necks rubbed? I don't know how it'll be yet. Maybe Fridays people will come in, between five and seven, and it'll be five bucks, or free, and you'll get a massage? A manicure? It'll be far enough away from the food for that to happen, more or less. I guess!"
My guess is that by the time Mell's Beauty Bar opens this fall, at 606 Washington Ave. N. in Minneapolis's Warehouse District (down the street from Sapor, across from Bunker's), the female population will be in such a full-fledged frenzy of inspired fantasy that Mell's will be the bar opening of the year.
"It's going to be like a cross between the Imperial Room and Jetset," says Mell. "The atmosphere is going to be retro yet modern. It's definitely going to appeal to women--I mean, Mell's Beauty Bar does sound very feminine. It's not named Champps! But where the pretty girls are, the cute guys are going to be, too. And the gay crowd! That's important. A lot of it will be word of mouth--people will say: There's a really cute crowd here, let's check it out."
Other kinda sorta verified facts: The room will have a Batgirl-meets-James Bond decorating motif of a lot of black and chrome with pink and orange accents, $10 brick-oven pizzas till 1:00 a.m. most nights (and perhaps 3:00 a.m. on weekends), and signature martinis priced around $7, and there just might be valet parking. But Mell is absolutely, definitely the former pastry chef at La Belle Vie, and she will be bringing some of her famed bread puddings and other highfalutin favorites with her to her new spot.
Not to mention Betty's Artichoke Dip: "My mom makes the best artichoke dip in the world," explains Mell. "It's famous; whenever she brings it to family get-togethers, pot lucks, everyone always wants Betty's Artichoke Dip. My cousin made it for a work function at Target, and the whole department won some totally huge prize. Betty's Artichoke Dip is famous at Target! It's not as mayonnaisey as they usually are, you know? Basically, I'd say Mell's Beauty Bar reflects me, what my vision is, a fun place that I'd want to go and hang out. Luxurious. Loungey. Sophisticated."
Sophisticated, with dip, and, maybe, a manicure. Remember: You read it here first. Mell's Beauty Bar, projected opening this October, 606 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.1680.