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Renovated Turf Club in St. Paul reopens Thursday

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After a summer of construction, the Turf Club is reopening under new ownership Thursday in St. Paul, the Pioneer Press reports.

Located on the corner of University and Snelling avenues, the Turf Club opened in the 1940s and has been a mainstay in the Twin Cities music scene since the 1990s. Thursday night's grand reopening concert – featuring local artists Dead Man Winter, Frankie Lee and Erik Koskinen – is sold out.

Long a grubby but beloved dive for music fans, the club made the improvements after First Avenue took ownership last October. General manager Nate Kranz tells the Pioneer Press that there are a lot of changes that customers won't see, like a new roof and improvements to the plumbing and electrical systems.

A full kitchen has also been added to serve lunch and dinner daily.

"The only things we didn't change were the floor upstairs and downstairs in the Clown Lounge, and the ceiling in the Clown Lounge," Kranz says.

One of the biggest differences people will notice going to the club, he says, is the display of mural that was previously hidden behind a black curtain behind the stage.

"The day we got the keys, we pulled back the black curtain behind the stage and discovered a horse-racing mural," general manager Nate Kranz tells the Pioneer Press. "I don't think I've ever seen a concert anywhere with a mural like that."

Kranz told The Line that it was important to keep the look and feel of the club the same.

“There’s just so much character and history in that room that it was important to us … to keep the vibe and character intact," he said.

The Line says the club's staff has expanded from about 11 or 12 employees to about 40.

According to the Turf Club's website, the venue opened in the 1920s as Hove Food Market, Inc. Groceries. The owners of a pool hall next door took the store over after Prohibition ended in 1933 and converted it into a bar, using their surnames – Kirch and Gillis – as the name of the establishment.

The site says a three-alarm fire struck the venue in 1942, and it reopened in 1945, converting into an establishment that included dancing. The business officially became the Turf Club around 1950.

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