The lights are out, the curtains drawn and the bar has closed one last time at The Strip Club Meat & Fish. The restaurant reigned in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood for nine and a half years. It was long enough to launch myriad careers, watch children who tottered through the room grow to young adulthood and catapult a chef and restaurateur into the cannon of Twin Cities hospitalitarians. This was more than just a great place to get a grass-fed steak on the east side of town. At the bar business partnerships were formed, new friends were made and solace could always be found in the warm embrace of its staff.
Tim Niver and J.D. Fratzke first toured the gothic building ten years ago and knew despite a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood, this place ached to be something wonderful. Now Niver jokes that the spirits that inhabited the building are bummed the party is over, a few mysterious mishaps as they closed up the final time leads him to believe it’s not just corporeal diners who are sad to see the place go.
For the final night, the crew who had become like family, both to each other and their regular diners returned for one more epic meal. Dan Oskey arrived from his booming distillery to take another turn behind the bar. Both Niver and Fratzke’s wives arrived for their shift, the duo longtime servers there. Friends, family, friends who became family, local celebrities and hungry patrons all arrived to take part in one last party. The music played, Jameson flowed and the Cobra Kais burned with added significance.