Montage (Nye's redevelopment) - 116 E Hennepin Avenue

Northeast, Near North, Camden, Old St. Anthony, University and surrounding neighborhoods
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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 12:04 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:No amount of historic preservation is going to save Nye's as an establishment, so really I don't know what people are expecting from this.
Now you're just regurgitating the BS that the current owners are feeding you. If the determination is made that the existing buildings could/should/must be saved, then there's no particular reason that the current owners couldn't/shouldn't/mustn't sell the business to somebody that actually gives a damn and has some chops and could make a killing running Nye's in it's current location surrounded by a new development and an increasingly dense, active neighborhood.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby mattaudio » December 9th, 2014, 12:08 pm

That may be true, but the city only has the authority to preserve buildings, not establishments.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 12:14 pm

Right, but I'm saying the current owners are deliberately trying to snuff out the business to blunt opposition to their plans to demolish the buildings. If demolishing the buildings is taken off the table (by the city), that may change their calculus.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » December 9th, 2014, 12:15 pm

I'm not going to pretend that what the owner says is 100% true 100% of the time, but I'm also not going to believe the inverse that they're 100% lying 100% of the time. I've been there a few times during the week and a few times during the weekend, during the week it was pretty slow, during the weekend it was pretty busy and the staff was rude. New ownership could definitely fix the second problem, but probably not the first. I don't have any reason to believe the current owners are running Nye's poorly on purpose, and my (granted, limited) experience tells me that that they're probably right about it not really being viable based on 2 or 3 busy nights a week.

It certainly could come down to the city deciding the entirety of the Nye's building is "historic" (though I think a wholesale determination like that is unlikely), but they can't force anyone to run it as Nye's ain its current form. In that case, best case someone with more money than sense buys it and maybe makes it work (by changing things! It will change!) but I think more likely they'll lose their shirt. Or on the other end nobody buys the business and the buildings just become boarded up, and there's nothing the HPC can do about that.

There's no framework to preserve a business in amber. Period. End of story. Nye's in its current exact form will be gone. Literally nothing can be done about that.

Even you say it would require competent ownership, which would require a change. Nye's in its current form is gone, it can't be saved, because if what you say is true, it's current form is one in which it's being deliberately run into the ground.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby lordmoke » December 9th, 2014, 12:18 pm

The city COULD (read: possible, not likely) list the interior of the space as well as the signage, effectively forcing the building into restauranthood forever, not unlike Town Talk. It doesn't save Nye's per se, but it effectively saves Nye's. I really don't think there are a large number of people demanding the place be preserved and run exactly as is. Stuff changes. I just don't think most people want to see Nye's wiped clean off the face of the earth.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » December 9th, 2014, 12:26 pm

Also, for better or worse, we live in a capitalist society. Property rights are a thing. Money is a nice thing to have, and I'm not surprised when people act in ways that lead them to have more of it.

I don't think people should have free reign to bulldoze whoever and whatever they want to make a buck, but I'm certainly not buttmad that someone's trying to do it. I don't think it's an outrageous affront to human society that someone tries. There exist checks and balances to make sure they can't do whatever they want, and that process will play out.

Maybe we'd be better off in a more socialist society (but even then there would still be private property owners etc etc). I don't think a communist economy would be particularly good for us. But let's not be mad when a private owner of private property doesn't act as if the State owns his property and business.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 12:29 pm

FMP, I'm really not sure I understand your weird fatalistic response to this particular thing, when you're perfectly willing to engage in remarkable flights of fantasy on other things.

All I'm saying is that the current owners have been on auto-pilot for a while. Running a bar/restaurant is hard work, but I see no reason why new owners couldn't maintain the spirit of the establishment while making the improvements necessary to make it a viable operation (and I'm still skeptical that they were actually losing money).

It's sort of the same thing as Peavey Plaza. Were there problems with the current situation? Yes. Does that mean that we should accept tossing away wholesale an important part of our cultural history? No. Should we fix the problems while preserving what's important? Yes.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 12:31 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:But let's not be mad when a private owner of private property doesn't act as if the State owns his property and business.
Isn't a pain in the ass when the business you own becomes a beloved cultural icon? Poor them.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » December 9th, 2014, 12:39 pm

I'm not gonna stand here and say that unregulated free market capitalism is a human right and destiny and the ultimate something something something, because I don't believe that to be true at all. But right now a private entity owns this private establishment, and I'm not shocked and appalled that they're trying to make money. A beloved cultural icon doesn't automatically revert to State ownership.

I hope that somehow both the Nye's buildings and name are able to be saved (maybe without that northern 1 story part, not sure what it's like on the inside but it doesn't contribute a ton to the outside) and something understated yet tall is built in the parking lot behind it. But I don't think it's going to be exactly the way it always was, and ultimately I think that's fine.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 12:42 pm

OK, I can agree with most of that.

Worth noting that the current owners purchased it in 1999, well after the St. Anthony Historic District was established and well after Nye's was a beloved institution, so they should have known what they were getting into.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » December 9th, 2014, 12:57 pm

Also I don't mean to paint you with the same brush as I do MRRDC because I don't think you're like that at all, but I feel like I see some of the same thoughts out of their crazy minds as I do with some of the zeal to preserve Nye's. Particularly the Renovate to Rent/Turkey 2 Go guys buying houses in Uptown and renting them out. MRRDC is absolutely appalled that the city isn't doing anything about this, as if it's the cities job to step in and block every minor real estate transaction if 110% of the people within 100 miles don't sign off on it. Obviously the scope here is much different, and the public impact much larger, but I don't think the city's role is to explicitly examine every transaction and make sure everybody is happy with it.

My only experience with running a bar/restaurant business is watching a lot of Bar Rescue, Kitchen Nightmares, Restaurant Impossible, and Hotel Impossible. I'm not on the inside of this business, and really nobody else is either, so we can't really say for sure if it's being run well. It's certainly possible that they're intentionally ruining the business, but running a restaurant is hard, especially a unique one like this, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they gave it their best effort and couldn't do it. And maybe somebody else with more experience in a unique space like this and less experience with a glorified Applebee's could do it, but maybe it's just not possible and nobody can do it.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby David Greene » December 9th, 2014, 1:53 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:Particularly the Renovate to Rent/Turkey 2 Go guys buying houses in Uptown and renting them out. MRRDC is absolutely appalled that the city isn't doing anything about this, as if it's the cities job to step in and block every minor real estate transaction if 110% of the people within 100 miles don't sign off on it.
If a house is being converted from SFH to a rental property, the city certainly does have something to say about it. Rental properties are regulated. I don't know if the city could actually stop a conversion (and I wouldn't want that 99% of the time) but they certainly can place restrictions on how it's used as a rental property.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » December 9th, 2014, 1:56 pm

MRRDC is upset that the houses are being sold. Period. They have made no claims that the renovations are substandard or that they're bad landlords (beyond the disdain they have for all landlords) or that they're not meeting rental codes or anything that the city actually concerns itself with. Their concern is that people they don't like are buying houses, and they want CPED to stop it. They want the city to step in at the point of transaction, not at the point of issuing building permits or rental permits etc etc.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » December 9th, 2014, 2:10 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:It's certainly possible that they're intentionally ruining the business, but running a restaurant is hard, especially a unique one like this, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they gave it their best effort and couldn't do it. And maybe somebody else with more experience in a unique space like this and less experience with a glorified Applebee's could do it, but maybe it's just not possible and nobody can do it.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that they were deliberately ruining the business, just that once they decided they were going to cash out and redevelop, it was in their interest to make Nye's appear to be a lost cause.

I am suggesting that there are a lot of great restaurateurs in this town who could do marvels with the history, the ambiance, and the location of Nye's. The current owners have demonstrated that they lack either the chops or the interest to do so.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby twinkess » December 9th, 2014, 2:24 pm

MNdible wrote:
FISHMANPET wrote:It's certainly possible that they're intentionally ruining the business, but running a restaurant is hard, especially a unique one like this, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they gave it their best effort and couldn't do it. And maybe somebody else with more experience in a unique space like this and less experience with a glorified Applebee's could do it, but maybe it's just not possible and nobody can do it.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that they were deliberately ruining the business, just that once they decided they were going to cash out and redevelop, it was in their interest to make Nye's appear to be a lost cause.

I am suggesting that there are a lot of great restaurateurs in this town who could do marvels with the history, the ambiance, and the location of Nye's. The current owners have demonstrated that they lack either the chops or the interest to do so.
Once you decide you are going to demo your restaurant, you also stop investing in the long term stuff because it doesn't make sense to spring for that new vent hood (or whatever, just riffing here) when you aren't going to get an ROI.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby Nathan » December 9th, 2014, 5:42 pm

I personally don't think that there is any new urban form that I could value as much as what the two older buildings contribute to the block here. As a big fan of mid century style I'd love to see the interior saved as well, but I don't think it contributes nearly as much as the structures. I'm a big fan of Historic Preservation, but not just for preservation's sake. This is an important part of Minneapolis and North East, it's not something we can afford to loose in this neighborhood.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby Chef » December 9th, 2014, 11:22 pm

It is worth noting that these are also the owner's of Jake's City Grill. Primarily they are operators of a suburban bar chain. They are mediocre restauranteurs at best, and a place like Nye's isn't really in their wheelhouse. Part of Nye's problem is that it has perhaps been set in amber a little too much. Improving the menu and the service, without changing the vibe could go a long way. Right now they exist just as a novelty destination. If they improved their execution of the basic game of restaurant, they could add a regular daily restaurant/bar clientele to the novelty draw they already have. That would be their route to making it I think, but it would probably require new ownership.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » December 10th, 2014, 9:00 am

MNdible wrote:FMP, I'm really not sure I understand your weird fatalistic response to this particular thing, when you're perfectly willing to engage in remarkable flights of pantasy on other things.

All I'm saying is that the current owners have been on auto-pilot for a while. Running a bar/restaurant is hard work, but I see no reason why new owners couldn't maintain the spirit of the establishment while making the improvements necessary to make it a viable operation (and I'm still skeptical that they were actually losing money).

It's sort of the same thing as Peavey Plaza. Were there problems with the current situation? Yes. Does that mean that we should accept tossing away wholesale an important part of our cultural history? No. Should we fix the problems while preserving what's important? Yes.
I must ask: what is in it for the current owners to do such a thing (let another owner try and run their business)? If they can make $5.5M on a quick and easy sale or try to sell their drowning restaurant for some fraction of that instead (or walk away altogether), doesn't the current owner lose in the latter scenario? Therefore, why would we expect them to do such a thing -- to save their own floundering business for OTHERS to enjoy? I think that may be what FMP is trying to say, and if so, I totally agree (for right or wrong).

It's extremely hard for any of us on the outside to come in and try and tell the current land and business owners how best to make business decisions that make everyone but themselves happy. If the current owners can walk away with a bundle AND the character of the buildings can be saved, then everybody wins (no doubt), but I do not expect the current owners to bend over in order to make that happen (though wouldn't that be nice).

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » December 10th, 2014, 9:07 am

Nathan wrote:I personally don't think that there is any new urban form that I could value as much as what the two older buildings contribute to the block here. As a big fan of mid century style I'd love to see the interior saved as well, but I don't think it contributes nearly as much as the structures. I'm a big fan of Historic Preservation, but not just for preservation's sake. This is an important part of Minneapolis and North East, it's not something we can afford to loose in this neighborhood.
Totally agree, it's a very messy situation, with a net loss seemingly inevitable. Let's just try to make the best of it.

For instance, the City could decide to subsidize this development by bringing to the table the supposed value loss that keeping the preexisting structure as-is takes from the profitability/viability of the new development. In other words, if it brings down the profitability by $5M, bring that much to the table and subsidize the investment by "investing" in Minneapolis past, present and future by keeping most of Nye's. The idea being that the City values the historic character of the building, and the CITY (and its people) is the one fronting the bill to maintain that character (and not either private interest).
Last edited by min-chi-cbus on December 10th, 2014, 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nye's Polonaise Room - 100 block of E Hennepin Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » December 10th, 2014, 9:08 am

Chef wrote:It is worth noting that these are also the owner's of Jake's City Grill. Primarily they are operators of a suburban bar chain. They are mediocre restauranteurs at best, and a place like Nye's isn't really in their wheelhouse. Part of Nye's problem is that it has perhaps been set in amber a little too much. Improving the menu and the service, without changing the vibe could go a long way. Right now they exist just as a novelty destination. If they improved their execution of the basic game of restaurant, they could add a regular daily restaurant/bar clientele to the novelty draw they already have. That would be their route to making it I think, but it would probably require new ownership.
Talk about an awesome contender for "Restaurant Impossible"!!


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