Local Current Blog

Sneak a peek at the remodeled Turf Club, opening tonight

Photos by Nate Ryan/MPR

When fans step foot in the Turf Club tonight for the first show since it closed for remodeling back in June, they may be surprised at just how much has changed—and how familiar it all feels despite the major renovations.

“It’s awesome how much time and effort it took to redo this bar to make it look pretty much the same,” bar manager Josh James joked, laughing as he restocked the bottles behind the Turf’s bar on Wednesday afternoon. Even the long, cane-shaped wooden bar feels aesthetically similar thanks to presence of the original guard rail along the edge of the bar, despite being a brand-new addition to the room.

The most noticeable change to the room is the ceiling, which has been raised significantly and restored to its original high wooden beams. Look up at the beams toward the back of the room and you can even see some of the charred remains of a fire that swept through the club back in 1942, a nod to just how much the bar has endured over the past century. And resting just below the beams are the club’s signature art deco, round red vents, which are at a higher altitude but otherwise remain unchanged from their original state.

The other visible renovations are centered around the stage: The wall to the right of the stage has been sealed off, a new and significantly more sturdy staircase has been added, and shiny new amp racks, processors, and PAs are stacked all around. At the back of the stage, an original 1940s mural of five horses racing on a track has been uncovered and restored.

And then there’s the bathrooms, which have been completely gutted and refinished in gleaming black tile, each accented with custom green and white Turf Club logo mosaics crafted by local musician Maggie Morrison. And the downstairs bathrooms have been relocated and set further back in the hallway so they could be doubled in size.

Downstairs in the Clown Lounge, brand-new wooden booths and green leather stools will greet concertgoers looking for a respite from the din upstairs, and the room is in the process of being restored to its famous clown theme, complete with stained glass clown lamps above each booth and clown artwork lining every wall. The original jukebox, which is stocked with old soul and country 45s, has been refurbished by Ax-Man and is back in working order, and the bar has been remodeled and stocked with nearly two dozen beers on tap.

Other not-so-visible improvements include the addition of a kitchen—which is scheduled to start serving food next Friday, Sept. 5, including lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch—a new sprinkler and alarm system, and an upgraded green room and office to keep things sailing smoothly behind the scenes.

“The goal was to bring it up so it was brand new, but almost exactly the same as before,” says First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz, who oversaw his company’s purchase of the club last year and worked with First Avenue owner Dayna Frank and a team of their staff on the renovations. “We want people to walk in and see that it is essentially the same vibe, but obviously everything’s brand new—maybe like what the Turf Club was like the day it opened the first time.”

The Turf Club is celebrating its grand reopening with four shows this weekend, including tonight’s sold-out show with Dead Man Winter and Frankie Lee, tomorrow night’s Hammerhead show (also their EP-release party), Saturday’s gig with Four Fists, Solid Gold, and special guests, and Sunday’s show with Night Moves, Carroll, Rupert Angeleyes, and the Chambermaids.

More photos of the Turf Club’s renovations by Nate Ryan: