City Hall Bar and Grill expansion takes shape in Minneota, with the help of local investors

Photo by Deb Gau Eric Buysse, chairman of the City Hall Bar and Grill board of directors, and restaurant general manager Jordan Dressen, showed off some of the construction progress at City Hall Bar and Grill last week. The restaurant portion of the bar and grill will seat around 70 people.

MINNEOTA — Minneota was missing something: a local place to eat and gather. But all that’s changing, with the help of a group of local investors.

A little more a year ago, local investors bought the former Bubba’s Bar in Minneota, as well as the vacant lot beside it. They’ve renovated the “bar” portion of the new City Hall Bar and Grill, and now the “grill” part is taking shape in a new building addition.

“It’s changing every day,” said Dave Fahey, of the progress at the bar and grill. Fahey, a member of the investors’ group, said people have been taking a lot of interest in the construction.

The investor group hopes to have the grill finished in April, said Eric Buysse, president of the City Hall Bar and Grill board of directors. With the progress that’s been made on the addition this winter, “It looks like that should happen,” Buysse said.

Buysse said investors started planning to build the bar and grill as a way to fill a need in the Minneota community.

“A couple of us got together about a year and a half ago,” and the planning grew from there, Buysse said. While supporters wanted to have a local restaurant again, nobody really wanted to be the person to run it, he said. Instead, the investors’ group was formed. So far, there are around 30 people involved with the group, Buysse said. However, the group is open to more investors until July 1, he said.

Construction of City Hall Bar and Grill has been a local effort, Buysse said. Several local contractors are working to build the addition, including Bruce Laleman for construction, B&B Electric, and Matt Coequyt for plumbing, Buysse said. Even the name of the bar and restaurant has ties to Minneota’s history. As an old sign in the brick on the second story states, the bar building was once the site of the Minneota city hall.

“There used to be a jail, a library, a courtroom,” all in the building, Buysse said. Part of the old jail is still part of the structure, he said.

It’s been easy to see some of the progress made on the grill addition since construction started this fall. The structure of the building has gone up in the vacant space right next to the bar, and new windows, siding and a new awning spanning both the bar and the addition have been put in.

The grill is also taking shape on the inside. Buysse said the bar’s old bathrooms have been torn out, and new bathrooms and a kitchen area have been built in the addition. The addition will have room for around 70 people, and Buysse said booths are being built for the new seating area.

The addition is designed to go along with the look of the bar, with accents of knotty pine and rough-cut wood. Part of the bar’s old outer brick wall is exposed inside the grill addition.

While construction continues, one of the next big steps for the grill will be to start hiring staff, Buysse said. The board of directors has already hired a general manager, Canby resident Jordan Dressen.

“I’ve been working in restaurants since I was 15,” Dressen said. He worked at Granite City Food and Brewery in St. Cloud for seven years, and became head of training for employees there.

Dressen is already working to develop the menu for City Hall Bar and Grill, which he said will include familiar items like burgers, as well as some unique dishes.

On Feb. 24, he’ll be holding interviews for staff including cooks, servers and dishwashers.

“It’s more than exciting,” Dressen said of managing a brand-new restaurant.