Here's an urban Cinderella story, Minneapolis-style: Picture an industrial warehouse district, a place where the most interesting thing that ever happens is when the trolley comes by to “loop” around the north side of the city. Fast-forward a hundred years and find that same gritty spot transformed. Now the trendiest folks in town—and many more from out of town—flock to its restaurants, bars and boutiques, all in what used to be warehouses and factories for tractors, elevators and farm implements.
Welcome to the North Loop, aka NOLO, a Minneapolis neighborhood that seems to be exponentially upping its “cool factor” with the addition of each new hotel, event space or watering hole. Located in the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s where the city’s most lauded restaurants and trendiest new gathering places can be found. And with major attractions like Target Field right at the heart of everything, this neighborhood seems to have something for everyone.
“There’s an amazing convergence here, and it’s a neighborhood that’s really thriving,” says Dan Collison, executive director of NūLoopPartners, a private and public forum that facilitates the transformation of the North Loop by leveraging district assets. “Yet it’s all very much to scale, dense and with an integrated sense of place.”
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” says Tim Bildsoe, board president of the North Loop Association. “There are always lots of pedestrians who are out all the time, enjoying all the things the area has to offer. There is so much to do, and it’s such a vibrant area.”
As great a place as the North Loop is to live and work, it’s also an ideal location for meetings and events. Here are some highlights from an area that loves to welcome visitors and show off all its post-industrial charm.
Built in 1897, the 124-room Hewing Hotel calls itself the “go-to place in the North Loop,” says Heidi Sohn, director of sales. The historic building has been renovated as a luxury boutique hotel with a North Woods feel. The ballroom is 2,556 square feet, and there are also breakout spaces, a boardroom and a cozy library for pre-function events. That Bold North spirit extends to the wellness area, which has a 24-person sauna and an outdoor heated spa pool that’s open year-round. “We create exceptional experiences here,” Sohn says.
Also in the neighborhood are the pet-friendly TownePlace Suites Downtown Minneapolis by Marriott and the 155-room Element by Westin Hotel, scheduled to open in November. It will be attached to a 2,000-seat live music venue, the Fillmore Minneapolis.
“Many people are surprised by how much space we have here, since we don’t look that big from the outside,” says Becky Soderholm, sales manager at Muse Event Center. “We have a 3,500-square-foot ballroom on the main level and a mezzanine that wraps all the way around. There’s VIP or volunteer space on the third floor and a green room in the basement.” Corporate events are a breeze at the Muse, she says. “Many clients like to have an all-day meeting, then end the day with a reception right here.”
Housed in a former elevator factory, The Neu Neu “thrives on a culture of celebration,” says Kelly Bollis, owner and creative director. “We’re one of the only venues in the North Loop with an adjacent outdoor space, which allows you to bring in food trucks.” The Main Studio accommodates dinners for up to 150 seated or 200 standing guests, and the Natural Light studio has a capacity of 30 people.
Also in the neighborhood is event venue and performance space Aria, which features original brick walls, soaring ceilings and crystal chandeliers. It accommodates 400 seated or 1,000 for a reception.
For smaller events from two to 49, The Other Room is an industrial-style loft that features built-in bar, poker table, multiple TVs and a full kitchen. Owner Erick Patterson says, “It’s a great location for brainstorms, team meetings and client events. My vision was to keep the space as flexible and open as possible. It’s a unique space, and so much more comfortable than a formal conference room.”
Raise a Glass
If NOLO had an official motto, it might be “never thirsty.” Options for places to whet your whistle include Number 12 Cider, which cider maker and co-founder Colin Post says is a place to “celebrate the fruit, the growers, and cider drinkers alike.” The space features a 3,000-square-foot taproom and a patio facing an urban pocket park. There’s also a 40-person barrel room and a 25-person midcenturymodern loft-lounge.
The thriving beer-drinking scene includes Fulton Brewery, Modist Brewing, Inbound BrewCo, First Draft Taproom & Kitchen and the Freehouse. Coming later this year will be ONE Fermentary & Taproom and a winery from Schram Vineyards. The new Cobble Social House has seating for 39 on three levels. “Our vibe is more gallery than bar,” says owner Joe Clark. “We have some very accomplished mixologists.”
Dinner Is Served
The Bachelor Farmer’s private events space accommodates up to 60 seated guests and up to 100 for cocktails. “We’ve hosted everything from small gatherings to large business presentations, and even a pingpong tournament or two,” says Samantha Waldron, private dining and events manager.
“Spoon and Stable's event space is versatile and great for corporate events,” says Kylie Purtell, private events manager. Two separate rooms seat 12 and 24 or can be combined to seat 36. Nearby Demi, also a chef Gavin Kaysen restaurant, is available for full buyouts for up to 20 guests.
A fun-loving group can make a night of it at Nolo’s Kitchen & Bar and The Basement Bar. General Manager Pam Wubben describes the upstairs restaurant as “Midwest chic—one of our signature items is our Peterson Family Farm double-meat cheeseburgers.” Below stairs, The Basement Bar, with capacity for 240, offers darts, games, TVs and a stage for entertainment, plus full bar and a limited food menu. “We had an event here recently, and they played ‘Grumpy Old Men’ on every one of the 18 TVs,” Wubben says. The space is available for buyouts.
Fit & Fun
Target Field, and activities at the Target Field Station Plaza and Amphitheater, keep the area buzzing all summer long. When the weather gets colder, there are still plenty of active lifestyle options, including Basecamp Fitness, which welcomes groups and corporate events.
“We celebrate with exercise because colleagues who sweat together, stay together,” says Jed Schmidt, president. “We can schedule private group events for 10 or more attendees or work directly with smaller groups. We coordinate food and beverage service for after class.” The intense, 35-minute classes increase strength while improving cardio performance by alternating 60-second bursts of strengthtraining exercises with 60 seconds on stationary bikes.