Sonder Shaker looks to open in the former home of Nye's Polonaise

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March 2016 rendering of the apartment/retail/restaurant project going in at the former home of Nye's Polonaise Room. ESG Architects

When it comes to opening a new restaurant in the space that once housed Nye’s Polonaise Room, Cassidy Flannery knows he has some big, polka-dancing shoes to fill.

“We’re very loyal to the Northeast neighborhood, and we’re taking over a spot that’s very iconic,” he says of the Minneapolis location Nye's called home from 1950 through last year. “We’re by no means trying to replace what Nye’s was, but we do want to provide the same level of hospitality. We want this to be a place where locals can hang out, where you can come as you are.”

That place is Sonder Shaker, a 70-seat bar and restaurant with “a cocktail lounge vibe” set to debut at 130 E. Hennepin Ave. -- in a ground-floor space that's part of the Montage retail/residential/restaurant development project -- sometime next year.

While Sonder Shaker’s focus is craft cocktails, Flannery emphasizes that they’ll be fun, approachable, and pretension-free (and will be joined by plenty of wine and local beer). The food menu will be on the smaller side, with cocktail-complementing dishes inspired by things he and partners Ying Mao and Wes Watson have eaten in their travels: a “not-your-average” Cuban sandwich recipe they got from a Cuban family in Key West, for example, plus lobster rolls, a favorite of Flannery’s from trips to visit his brother on the East Coast. The menu will rotate seasonally, with fresh ingredients from local farmers, and the hope is to have an open kitchen that lets guests sit along the bar and watch the chefs at work.

Flannery’s no stranger to the restaurant industry: The 26-year-old was raised in New Glarus, Wisconsin, in an apartment above a supper club his parents owned for 35 years.

“The bar was pretty much my living room growing up,” he says, recalling afternoons spent penciling through homework while his mom tended bar. “She’d ask everyone, ‘Does anyone know how to do algebra? I’ll make you an Old Fashioned.’”

He’s since moved to Minneapolis and has lived in Northeast for the past three and a half years, becoming increasingly enamored with the neighborhood. When this space became available practically across the street from his apartment, it seemed like something of a sign.

The name -- Sonder Shaker -- highlights the concept of sonder, or the realization that every last person and passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

“Everyone has their own amazing story,” Flannery says. “We thought maybe the best way to showcase that was to open a bar.”

The cocktail lounge's proposed hours are noon to midnight Monday through Thursday, noon to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. Sundays. There's a public hearing for Sonder Shaker's liquor license today, October 24.

If all goes well, Flannery says construction is scheduled to kick off next week, and Sonder Shaker will open not long before the Super Bowl in February.


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