Restaurant tries its luck in a tough spot

by Peter Frost

The old cliche, “the third time is the charm,” is what a new Dinkytown restaurant hopes will become reality.
Bad Man Jose’s, a new Dinkytown bar and restaurant, is the third establishment to set up camp at a location where two restaurants have failed in the past two years.
First the Gopher Hole and then Sub-Zero Pizza succumbed to the windowless, substreet-level location, one of the more challenging business spaces in Dinkytown. It is located at 412 1/2 14th Ave. S.E. between Disc- Go-Round and Hollywood Video.
The Gopher Hole attracted the most attention, but not for the right reasons. Minneapolis police forced the night club to close after busting it 10 times for serving alcohol to minors.
“We were pretty skeptical about the location, but all that we ever talked about was having our own place — and I see it as a major challenge,” said Heather Koehler, owner of Bad Man Jose’s.
She hopes the restaurant will survive by being “the only authentic Mexican restaurant and bar in the Dinkytown area.” To make sure her food is genuinely Mexican, Koehler hired an Hispanic cooking staff experienced with old-style recipes.
Still in its first weeks of operation, it’s too early to tell whether Koehler’s new menu and optimistic attitude will pay off.
“It seems like it’s kind of an escape from society — it’s really a different place,” said restaurant patron Ben Kulemer.
Kulemer said he thought the food was “pretty good and pretty cheap.”
Bad Man Jose’s has all of the typical Mexican food staples like tacos, enchiladas and burritos, as well as hamburgers and pizza.
“We’re not only trying to cater to college students, but we’re trying to make a reason for the Latino population to come to Dinkytown,” Koehler said.
The restaurant serves 3.2 beer with hopes of moving up to a full beer and wine license in the next month. It is also waiting on an entertainment license that would allow dancing and live bands.
The restaurant now features karaoke on Tuesday nights and a disc jockey Thursday through Sunday nights playing Latin and American music.
A grand opening will be scheduled as soon as the restaurant obtains its beer and wine license later this fall.
Peter Frost covers business and welcomes comments at [email protected].