Co-owners Gene Sanguma, Stevie Moman and Tommy Joyce opened Uptown Ties in the former Uptown Tavern space on Lagoon Ave. on December 30, 2022, shortly after its owners closed its downtown location due to what the owners would only describe as “unforeseen circumstances.”
In addition to a full bar and a future cocktail menu, Ties welcomed Northern Soul, a dinner menu from Chef Justin Sutherland, in January.
Ties is open Fridays and Saturdays and like its downtown location, Uptown Ties location has a rooftop that will open in the spring. Next door, it's sister location, Daisy's at Uptown, will open in the spring also with a rooftop area. The City Council approved a liquor license for the former Cowboy Slims just this week.
The dinner menu consists of appetizers like chicken-fried cauliflower and poblano hush puppies, sandwiches like a shrimp, catfish or oyster po boy, and entrees like smoked ribs or fried chicken and cornbread. There are also wings, soups, salads, sides and desserts. I was excited to see banana pudding, something I’ve never seen on a menu in Minnesota.
Between 9 and 10 p.m., Ties staff remove tables and chairs to transition from dinner to a dance floor and the food selection cuts from the full spread to a smaller bar menu. The music goes from medium-volume pop and hip-hop, partially attributed to a TouchTunes jukebox, to louder mixes from one of Ties’ two DJs. Customers who arrive during later hours walk through metal detectors and get patted down by security guards.
Safety is a big theme for the co-owners. Sanguma said that he wants Ties to be known as a safe place for people to come together, hence the name “Ties.”
“We wanted to create a brand that if you lived in Minneapolis, you felt like you were a part of that brand where you could really resonate with everybody in this community,” Sanguma said.
Another goal for the co-owners is to help fill Uptown with spaces for people to come together. The restaurant’s Instagram bio reads “Bringing Minneapolis Together” and below it “#BringUptownBack.”
“But now that we’re here, it’s like a fresh start,” Moman said. “We’re still in Minneapolis, we’re still trying to bring Minneapolis together, trying to bring Uptown back.”
Moman, Sanguma and Joyce, who are in their mid-20s, met at a Minneapolis rooftop restaurant and bar and became friends quickly. They frequented many bars in the city together before coming up with their own idea for a bar. The trio didn’t come from money, Sanguma said, so they had to paint their vision for others to garner support in order to open Minneapolis Ties downtown. The bar was open for less than a year before closing in late 2022.
Despite the signature rooftop space, being owned by the same three people and having almost the same name as Minneapolis Ties, Sanguma said that Uptown Ties is a completely new concept.
“The downtown location has absolutely nothing to do with Uptown. That downtown location closed due to unforeseen circumstances,” he said.
For those who went to Minneapolis Ties, one difference you might clock, besides the Northern Soul menu, is the music.
Sanguma said that Uptown Ties will incorporate EDM in addition to the hip-hop and 2000s pop that were common at the downtown bar. The “open-format” music will hopefully cater to a wider audience, the co-owners said.
The co-owners’ goal is for every last Minneapolitan to step inside Uptown Ties, and for the name “Ties” to be a household name in Minneapolis.
“Every single person that comes in is another person that’s making our dream come true,” Moman said. “So many stories and so many connections with people that we’ve made from this– it’s been very surreal.”
Uptown Ties is located at 1400 Lagoon Ave. and is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Find them on Instagram @uptownties or on Facebook.