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Behind the Scenes at The Strip Club’s Last Night

The intimate moments during this landmark restaurant’s final dinner

The final night crew at this Dayton’s Bluff institution.
Eliesa Johnson Photography

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.

The sun sets at The Strip Club
Eliesa Johnson Photography

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.

Tim Niver addresses the room as Ryan Ecklund and Dan Oskey, Adam Johnson and Christy Niver look on.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Chef and co-owner J.D. Fratzke
Eliesa Johnson Photography for The Strip Club
One of the Strip Club kids, nearly all grown up.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Niver is known for his warm embrace and most nights could be found near the door, embracing dozens of customers he’d welcome as old friends every night.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Christy and Tim.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
The Fratzke family.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
The dish man, Frank. It’s a job that doesn’t get a lot of glory, but an integral part of every evening.
Eliesa Johnson Photography from The Strip Club’s Last Night
Lisa Fratke with her singular smile, a face familiar to Strip Club regulars.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
A quiet moment before the cacophony.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Checking the list.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Prep begins.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Cutting the final strip.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Make it nice, chef.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
A familiar sight. Oskey tries to remember where all the bottles go.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Working the line.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Dan Oskey, Timothy Leary, Christy Niver and Ryan Ecklund behind the bar the bar with the low ceiling.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
The final dance card was filled with family and friends.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
The bar seats were always the best place to be.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
A last laugh, a few tears.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
A few brief words from our leaders.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
Brothers in arms.
Eliesa Johnson Photography
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
Eliesa Johnson Photography

The Strip Club Meat & Fish

378 Maria Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55106 651 793 6247 Visit Website

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