One of the many things I learned during my Sunday at Paisley Park is that Prince never referred to his admirers as fans. To him, they were simply friends and family. My time at Prince’s famed facility felt nothing short of a family gathering — and a cool one at that.
Staff guided my tour group through the main level of Paisley Park. They’re a warm and welcoming group of men and women dedicating their time to establishing Paisley Park as a place of positivity and celebration. They were never without a smile on their face or an interesting Prince anecdote to tell as we weaved through rooms dedicated to various albums, costumes, and projects.
The space that stood out to me the most during the nearly two-hour tour was the Purple Rain room. Dark and intimate, the space is home to a motorcycle, costume, and piano that are featured in the movie. The Academy Award Prince won for best song score is also front and center. With scenes from the iconic film projected on the walls, it is easy to get emotional and a tad overwhelmed by the influence of Prince.
My friend and I were both surprised by how affected we were during our time at Paisley Park. Every part of the experience is beautifully and meticulously thought out, from the plush purple couches to the wall adorned with a fence dedicated to the gifts sent in after Prince’s passing.
Sunday marked the inauguration of what Paisley Park is calling “the brunch experience.” Every Sunday VIP ticket now includes brunch served in the NPG (New Power Generation) Music Club, surrounded by projections of various Prince performances on the walls. It’s loud, and a little difficult to carry a conversation with your neighbor because of that, but I think that was the point: to be enveloped by Prince as you enjoyed some of his favorite dishes.
The menu on Sunday included s’mores french toast, scrambled eggs with avocado and dukkah (this particular element paying homage to Prince’s fascination with Egyptian culture), Hasslebach potatoes with roasted red peppers and parmesan, and a choice of coffee, tea, or orange juice. The meal was served on a single plate, and our beverages were brought to us in cups adorned with the Paisley Park logo.
Executive chefs Ray and Juell Roberts did an excellent job of preparing the food and getting it to us within a timely manner. I was able to briefly chat with Juell, and she was excited about the experience. She explained to me that she and Ray were on high alert to make sure the food was being properly prepared and served to guests. Juell and the other wait staff checked in periodically throughout our meal to see if we had any questions or needed refills on our drinks. Overall, the atmosphere was comfortable, the food was warm and delicious, and I didn’t find myself in any hurry to leave.
I took a moment during my meal to look away from all the lights, all the purple, and all the images of Prince around me and I saw what is at the core of Paisley Park: it all comes back to love. Love for Prince, love for what he stood for, love for his home, and love for his legacy. One of the many ways that we show love is through food, and this brunch was a perfect example of that. Especially with Prince now gone, Paisley Park is providing a great opportunity for his friends and family to feel close to him by taking a great big bite off of his plate.
Hanna Bubser is a student at Hamline University.