For those looking to add an element of history, or to reflect a time-tested aesthetic, incorporating a retro- or vintage-style theme into an event is a surefire way to make it memorable. Luckily, Minnesota offers a wide range of venues, dining spots and rental companies that can satisfy the preferences of a wide range of history and vintage buffs.
With 16,000 square feet encompassing four themed bars and a patio overlooking the Mississippi River, this retro restaurant is truly a unique venue that transports guests from its Northeast Minneapolis surroundings to another decade. Described by General Manager Emily O’Brien as "a tiki bar gone wrong," the Polynesian, tiki theme of Psycho Suzi’s is a nod to the 1970s American obsession with the style. "We at Psycho Suzi’s can’t bear to see unloved tiki carvings decay away," says O’Brien. Whether it’s the bamboo-thatched huts, cascading waterfalls or tiki torches, O’Brien guarantees all of the restaurant’s retro décor "enables us to throw you a party that you’ll certainly reminisce about during your next power lunch."
In The Details:
History: Opened in 2003, moved to current location (a former nightclub) in 2010.
Capacity: Patio seating on the Mississippi River for 375, indoor seating for 440 and standing capacity of more than 1,000 customers.
Cost: Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge is available for a $6,500 food and beverage minimum; smaller spaces are between $1,500-$2,300.
Catering: A full banquet menu is available in all spaces with customizable drink menus.
This restaurant in the heart of Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood puts a modern spin on the retro feel, making it the perfect fit for those looking to break out of the typical meeting space mold. With bright, youthful colors and rooftop views of the Minneapolis skyline, events at the venue are sure to spark interest and lasting memories. A retro nod is even made to the names of the event spaces, such as the Teacher’s Lounge and the Jetson’s Lounge. As Kaley Brown, sales and event coordinator, says, "Putting people in a new and unexpected environment is a great way to bring out new ideas and spur creativity."
In The Details:
History: Opened in June 2010.
Capacity: Depending on style and room, can fit 30 to 100.
Cost: No rental fees or deposits, but there are food and beverage minimums, ranging from $300 to $3,000.
Owners Teresa Fox and Arwyn Birch were inspired to create one of the Twin Cities’ newest retro sweet shops from a late-night, old-fashioned donut shop they came across one fateful vacation. A perfect mix between their love for food, music, vintage and fashion (the ‘50s pinup look is a major inspiration for the shop, and Birch, a fashion designer, hand sews the female staff’s dresses), the shop offers customers an eclectic mix of donut varieties (everything from the Chart Topper with peanut butter and Sriracha, to the Calendar Girl with salted caramel and chocolate) that can be ordered by the dozen for meetings and events. As the shop is relatively new, Glam Doll Donuts does not yet have specific perimeters in regards to the space being utilized for events, but Fox and Birch are open to possibilities.
The event space here in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood elaborates on owners Eric and Andrew Dayton’s vision of a space with nods to the Nordic roots of Minnesota’s past. According to Julie Brousseau, private events manager, the space was created to honor its history as a former brick-and-timber warehouse built in the late 1880s, and to celebrate the what’s-old-is-new idea through an eclectic mix of retro style with modern-day elements. Incorporating art by Scandinavian artists; rustic, retro Nordic patterns in the furniture upholstery; walls covered in bright, colorful afghans; and warm, homey details such as a working fireplace and a Ping-Pong table, the four rooms offer a unique take on the past.
In The Details:
History: A former lumber warehouse built in the late 1880s.
Catering: In-house, reflects seasonal, local focus of the menu in the restaurant.
Capacity: Depending on the space, anywhere from 24 to 150.
Cost: Varies depending on format of food and drink offerings, as well as room selected and number of guests.
Located in the Westin Minneapolis hotel, this restaurant steps back to the days of its original grandeur as the Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank with its floor-to-ceiling windows, original marble staircase and art deco touches. With the restaurant’s seasonal and locally influenced menu, Julie St. Aubin, catering sales manager, states, "B.A.N.K is all about savoring, experiencing and sharing in all its historic glamour." In addition to the B.A.N.K.’s modern American-style restaurant, the space offers private dining and meeting rooms crafted out of the former bank’s unique spaces, including safety deposit boxes and executive offices. The meeting space in particular impresses guests, with two 16,000- pound bank vault doors adorning the area.
In The Details:
History: Located in former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank.
Capacity: 10-150 people.
Catering: In-house, extensive wine list and a wide variety of handcrafted cocktails
This Stillwater hotel embraces a mix of the past with a contemporary style. It is the uniqueness of the boutique-style hotel that Alex Rojas, the venue’s manager, believes draws people to the space. "People love the historic nature of our inn," he says. Built in 1927 on the grounds of a lumberjack boarding house, much of the inn’s history is reflected in the Williamsburg and French Provincial style of the original building that houses guest rooms and meeting spaces. Those wishing for a more contemporary feel have the option of the Euro-modern wing, where the inn’s banquet hall is situated. Modern day amenities throughout the space like Wi-Fi and validated parking also ensure that one can enjoy the comforts of modern living all while stepping into the past.
In The Details:
History: On Historic Registry, built in 1927.
Capacity: Anywhere from 16 to 200 people, depending on setup.
For an event that truly celebrates the history of Minneapolis, one must look no further than the Mill City Museum. The open-air train shed and the views of the Stone Arch Bridge help add to the historic ambiance, while The Charles H. Bell Ruin Courtyard, one of the museum’s most popular event spaces located in an area of the former mill destroyed by a fire in 1991, provides its own authentic feel. Hosting events at the museum is a big draw for those wanting to woo out-of-towners. As Patrick Pfundstein, the museum’s visitor service manager, states, there "is no better place to find out what Minneapolis is all about."
In The Details:
History: Housed in what was once the largest flour mill in the world, the Washburn A Mill.
Catering: D’Amico for food, drinks and alcohol. Groups can bring their own food and drink, too, excluding alcohol for licensing and insurance reasons.
Capacity: Modular renting system available for certain areas. Depending on the space and style of the event, can fit from 10 to 700 people.
Cost: Pricing varies depending on size of group, seasonality and spaces rented.
Situated in the heart of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities’ campus, The Commons Hotel reflects its relationship with the university through its "industrial schoolhouse" theme. Recently opened, the hotel’s retro vibe stems in part from the large amount of historic memorabilia from the university and is enforced through special touches like blackboards in meeting areas, the staff’s argyle sweater uniforms and features like "mad scientist breaks," a breakout activity that mimics the feel of a college chemistry lab. The atmosphere of "geek chic" collegiate at this hotel brings a unique aspect to any meeting or event wishing to emphasize thinking, creativity or learning.
In The Details:
History: Built in 1986, but has been remodeled.
Capacity: Two ballrooms, with the main ballroom seating up to 350, and an additional 12 meeting spaces.
Catering: Full in-house banquet department specializing in seasonal, regional menus.
Cost: Prices vary based on number of guest rooms occupied, food and beverage purchased and seasonality.
St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, The Depot
For a historic venue north of the metro area, this Duluth landmark is a great space for those looking for flexibility and options. Built in 1892, the former "Ellis Island of the North" celebrates the train-travel history of times past with the in-house Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Great Hall and meeting and conference rooms. The historic nature of the building is reflected in its French chateauesque style with two floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, cathedral ceilings and tile floors, adding a touch of rich elegance to any event. As the Depot’s Mary Karl states, "your options are nearly endless."
In The Details:
History: Nicknamed the Ellis Island of the North.
Capacity: Depending on style and space, 20 to more than 1,000.
Catering: Allows for any licensed caterer, can also be overseen by the Depot.
Cost: $50-$2,000 or more depending on needs and amount of people.
Situated on the 27th floor of Minneapolis’ historic Foshay Tower, this speakeasy, much like W Minneapolis-The Foshay, features a Roaring ‘20s theme with its revamped classic cocktail menu, original woodwork and luxurious lounge furniture. The space is "a perfect marriage between the old Foshay-feel and the trendy, sexy W-feel," says Molli O’Rourke, the director of marketing. Perfect for any number of events from personal parties to happy hours to networking events, the bar can fit anywhere from 20 to 60 people, depending on the style of the meeting.
In The Details:
History: Situated on the 27th floor of the Foshay Tower.
Capacity: Up to 20 for meeting, up to 60 for standing room cocktails.
Catering: In-house company Parasole.
Cost: Mandates a food and beverage minimum, range depending on day of week, time and number of people.
Owner Caitlin Parker prides herself on providing individual customer service for any budget. Supplying clients with "a range of vintage, retro, rustic and shabby-chic" style items, her company customizes services based on each event; Parker recognizes that there are a wide variety of needs people have when throwing a retro-themed event. But for Parker, what’s most important in finding vintage items for clients is ensuring that the products represent them. "As long as an item or items are special to the individual," she says, "a powerful statement is guaranteed to be made."
Props and furniture aren’t all this vintage rental business provides; styling and custom graphic design services are also available to clients. Proprietor Diane Storevik Holetz describes her company’s style as having a "luxe, refined take on vintage," inspired in particular by French and European looks. This style is particularly evident in her collection of vintage linens, including almost 300 vintage napkins, as well as her popular settee-soft specialty seating for lounges or for the guests of honor. As a bonus, clients interested in incorporating a vintage feel into their events can check out The Vintage Type’s selection by partaking in a complimentary walk-through (by appointment) of the company’s showroom.
Sarah Dreher, owner, finds joy in discovering unique items that can be utilized in a variety of unconventional ways. A lover of items that have more of a "primitive look ... like they have sat in the barn for years," Dreher believes the history of a piece can add an element of interest to any event. Color and versatility are big draws when it comes to selecting items that Dreher hopes her clients will love just as much as she does. She says her process "is about seeing [pieces] through a different lens," exploring what unorthodox uses something as simple as an antique hardware parts bin may hold. As she sees it, the unique versatility of her collection, filled with standout pieces, allows planners’ creativity to run wild.
Those looking for a vintage rental company servicing northern Minnesota (and North Dakota) can look to Lovely Details Vintage Rentals. The company provides styling, vintage décor and furniture for events and photo shoots, with a wide array of items that run the gamut of an eclectic blend of rustic, elegant, vintage and chic. Owner Chelsie Kuhn prides her company on being able to select one-of-a-kind treasures and incorporating them into an event setting that breathes new life into the piece. A longtime lover of "all things vintage, worn and old,’" Kuhn states, "there’s something so special about vintage or retro décor that most people won’t find fascinating until it’s displayed right or in the right type of setting."