For the fourth time in its 72-year history, Market Bar-B-Que is moving.
The father-and-son ownership team of Steve and Anthony Polski are relocating their landmark Eat Street restaurant to the new dining stronghold that is northeast Minneapolis. The Polskis aren’t releasing the address just yet, they’re still working out details.
“We do have a purchase agreement,” said Anthony Polski. "But I want to get an A-OK on other issues before I release the exact address."
This much they’re revealing: they’ll own the building – right now, they’re renters – and the space will be roughly half the size of the current Market, with a third as many seats. There will be parking, and the building is located near a major bus line.
Anthony Polski said that the site of the current Market – along with many of its neighbors -- is being cleared for an apartment complex.
“It’s what’s happening everywhere else in Minneapolis,” he said. “Tearing buildings down to make more apartments, to get more people to live downtown. We honestly view it as an opportunity. The guys who are building the building are awesome, they’ve left the door open for us to come back with a small shop of some kind.”
Reuter Walton Development of Minneapolis plans to build a 239-unit apartment building where most of the block’s Nicollet Avenue storefronts currently stand. Sibling businesses the Nicollet Diner and the Muffin Top Cafe would remain, but everything north – including a barbershop, three restaurants and a pub – would be demolished.
Co-founder Nick Walton said that he plans to price the retail portions of the building in hopes of retaining some of those current tenants, including the Market and Salsa a la Salsa.
“We’ve got a meeting with Ryan’s Pub next week,” he said.
The company is presenting its proposal to the neighborhood organization next month. Walton said that he hopes to break ground this fall. Reuter Walton is currently building a 75-unit apartment building on the 15th Street side of the block, next door to the Nicollet Diner.
The Market is one of the Twin Cities’ longest-running food-and-drink establishments. In 1946, brothers Willard and Sam Polski returned from their World War II service and opened Market Bar-B-Que at 130 N. 7th St. The restaurant got its name because of its then-proximity to what had been the Minneapolis City Market.
In 1962, the restaurant moved to 28 Glenwood Av. N., now the site of a parking ramp. Always a late-night hang out (in the old, old days it was open to 4 a.m.; today the doors stay open to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday), it was also a celebrity magnet, luring everyone from Bob Hope to Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Willard’s son Steve Polski bought the business in 1987, then moved the restaurant to its current Eat Street location at 1414 Nicollet Av. S. His son Anthony – who launched a Market Bar-B-Que food truck in 2016 – now jointly owns the restaurant with his father.
(For several decades, the family also operated a branch of the restaurant at 15320 Wayzata Blvd. in Minnetonka).
For 72 years, the Market has adhered to the same brick pit-cooked formula, building an oak fire every morning and carefully cooking meats over those open flames. The meat is refrigerated, then broiled just before it’s served, with sauces on the side.
The plan is to salvage as much of the Market’s funkiness – the light fixtures, the bar, the ceiling -- and reinstall it in the new location. That all-important brick pit, too.
“We’re going to dismantle the pit and take as much of it as we can to the new place,” said Anthony Polski. “There’s a cave-man aspect to what we do, lighting that fire every day, and I’m really proud to be carrying on that tradition.”
The move will happen sometime before the end of year, with a lag of a few weeks between the closing at Nicollet and the opening in Northeast. Before that happens, Polski plans on holding a few customer appreciation events at the Nicollet location. Stay tuned.
“We’d really like people to come down and get in their last memories of the place,” he said. “It feels good that so many people are coming together to help our family’s business. We’re taking our employees with us. Some of them have worked there longer than I’ve been alive. It’s my job to make sure that there’s a home for them, and that the move is seamless.”
The move is a life-altering event for Anthony Polski, who was just a few years old when the Market settled into its Nicollet home.
“I’m sad, and I cry about it,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to this place, and doing right by our employees, and the community. I met my wife here. But the sad reality is that it’s happening. It’s how life happens, and you roll with the punches. I’ve droned on and on about owning our own building. Now we have this great opportunity to do just that, and to go into a part of town that’s conducive to family-owned-and-operated places.”
(Above photo by Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune)