Fans of Minneapolis' popular Loring Pasta Bar were disappointed to find a "Closed Until Further Notice" sign on the door of the Dinkytown restaurant/bar Tuesday afternoon.
It had an out-of-business feel that was confirmed when City Pages reported that employees had been told the night before to come pick up their final paychecks.
But then the other shoe dropped when an evening Facebook post made it official: Yes, Loring Pasta Bar is closed for good. And a new staff-owned establishment called LRx – Loring & Pharmacy Bar will open on August 9.
Former owner also sold Varsity Theater
The Loring Pasta Bar opened in 2001 and consistently won good reviews – for its decor and ambience, as well as its food and drinks.
Thrifty Hipster, for example, called it one of the most beautifully decorated places in the Twin Cities. And while it's in the center of a U of M neighborhood, its artsy crowd gave it an upscale feel, including the regular Tuesday night tango dancing accompanied by the Cafe Accordion Orchestra.
Jason McLean, who owned both the Loring and the neighboring Varsity Theater, sold the theater in June for more than $2 million. Now he has evidently sold the restaurant, as well. McLean is paying a legal settlement after he was sued over sex abuse allegations from his days as co-founder of the Children's Theatre Company in the 1970s and '80s.
We'll have to wait and see if the staff ownership and new name lead to other changes in the establishment, but the name LRx – Loring & Pharmacy seems to be a reference to the building's history.
Before it became the Pasta Bar it was Gray's Drug Store, and according to journalist and Dinkytown historian Bill Huntzicker the building was once the terminal for the first horse drawn streetcar in Minneapolis.
Some say that in 1959 a U of M student named Robert Zimmerman was living above Gray's Drug Store when he first started calling himself Bob Dylan.