City says ‘pozegnanie’ to Nye’s

This weekend marked the mainstay’s last, as part of the building will be razed to make way for an apartment complex.

Patrons crowd around Daina De Prez while she performs at Nye's Bar and Polonaise room Saturday evening. The Bar will be closing after 67 years and will be holding its last polka dance on Sunday April 3.

Sam Harper

Patrons crowd around Daina De Prez while she performs at Nye’s Bar and Polonaise room Saturday evening. The Bar will be closing after 67 years and will be holding its last polka dance on Sunday April 3.

Benjamin Farniok

Over the weekend, diners at Nye’s Polonaise Room heeded the advice of dishes and drinks inspired by the Polish phrase, “Jedzcie pijcie i popuszczajcie pas,” or in English, “Eat, drink and loosen your belt.”
 
 
But after 67 years, Nye’s — one of Minneapolis’ oldest bars — closed the doors to its ’60s-era decor, jumbo cocktails and penchant for polka.
 
 
Owners announced last year that their time at the East Hennepin Avenue site would be coming to an end. 
 
 
After some delays, the bar and restaurant officially closed Sunday, and most of the building will be razed and replaced by an apartment complex.
 
 
The next building, currently unnamed, will be six stories tall — down from the 30 originally planned by Minneapolis developer Schafer Richardson and decried by the St. Anthony Falls Historic District. 
 
 
To honor its history, the site will preserve two of the buildings housing Nye’s.
 
 
Ward 3 City Council member Jacob Frey said the business’s history and the limited site preservation means the bar could make a comeback.
 
 
“I think a rebirth is in the cards,” he said.
 
 
Where everybody knows your name 
 
 
The bar ended its run with a weekendlong party so customers could have a chance to listen to the “World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band” in its natural habitat.
 
 
The party spilled into the parking lot, where owners built a tent to serve drinks and play more music. Even with the extra space, both the bar and the white tent sheltering outdoor visitors hit maximum capacity Saturday night.
 
 
Many who visited the closing party said they had been coming to the spot for years.
 
 
Pete Duc, a Nye’s regular of more than 20 years, said he has never been anywhere else like it, especially because the bar attracts such a diverse crowd.
 
 
Duc said it’s not uncommon to see someone in their early 20s strike up a lengthy, energetic conversation with an 80-year-old stranger.
 
 
“That don’t happen [sic] any place but here,” he said.
 
 
During his time at Nye’s, Duc said, he has even met famed singers and actors, like Woody Harrelson and Vince Vaughn, as well as a one-time visit from champion Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
 
 
David Angus, another frequent patron, has visited the bar about once a month for the last five years. He said his 91-year-old neighbor Melvin Rush first invited him to Nye’s over a cigar at their housing complex in St. Paul.
 
 
“I’ve been coming here for five years, but I fell in love with it right away,” Angus said.
 
 
Now Angus, who doesn’t drink, escorts Rush to Nye’s, where he has a set routine of karaoke and two beers before calling it a night.
 
 
With the bar’s closure, Angus and Rush are left to search for a new singing venue, but they are so far at a loss for a paralleled option.
 
 
Duc said while he is sad to see Nye’s close, he understands why. He said the owner had once told him the age of the building made it a “money pit.”
 
 
“A lot of people are sad,” he said. “What is one person’s progress isn’t progress for another person.”