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Winter Demands Creative Good Times When You’re Living Through a Pandemic in Minnesota

Drive-in movies, ice bars, ice rinks, and more ways local spots are getting creative in the cold

A sign made completely of ice reads Welcome to the Ice Games.
Cool games, hot drinks, and plenty of ways to stave off cabin fever
The Block SLP/Facebook

While establishments have closed under Covid-safety regulations more than once, the creativity with which spots have reopened proves how vibrant and resilient the Twin Cities hospitality scene is.

An ice cream shop selling weekend burgers and shakes out of a red truck, a craft pub projecting nostalgic movies on the side of their business, and a brewery spreading out and making each new space special and inviting in its own way. The three businesses below are offering enjoyable experiences that may be different from “business as usual.” However, by revitalizing their concepts to cater to everyone’s safety, they are showing us what local businesses can, and continue, to do.

The Gnome/Facebook

Cuddle Up Curbside at The Gnome’s Drive-In Cinema

One example of playful use of space is The Gnome in St. Paul turning their parking lot into a drive-in theater. Since movie theaters have also suffered through closures and limited capacities for reopening, they are only allowed 25% for now while restaurants are 50%. After months indoors, the view of one's television and exclusively streaming can get old. For $25, guests can reserve a viewing spot for their vehicle and have their food and drink orders taken curbside. Options to make additional orders online after the movie begins are also available. A great way to enjoy a night out and support a place that has provided amazing support for furloughed hospitality staff. Even amidst reopening, they have pledged to continue support every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon. Previous films they’ve shown include The Karate Kid, The Goonies, The Matrix, and The Princess Bride, to name a few.

Bebe Burger/Facebook

Bundle Up for Burgers and Shakes at Bebe Burger’s Food Truck

Most every Saturday and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Bebe Zito’s little red truck serves up cheeseburgers and shakes until they sell out. Guests are invited to order inside the Bebe Zito ice cream shop and wait for their food either inside, outside, or in their car. The brisket and bacon patty is delightfully thin and achieves a perfect flat-top crisp reminiscent of classic diners. Choose a single or a double stack for a bargain, $5.95 and $7.95 respectively, topped with American cheese, special sauce, pickle, and lettuce. For tastebud bliss pair it with something sweet. The shakes flavors range from classic to experimental, providing something for everyone. Other delightful noshes include draft root beer floats, $1 sodas, honey butter chips, and $1 each homemade toppings and mix-ins. Bebe Burger is definitely something to look forward to through the workweek this winter. Throw on a scarf and gloves and get there before they’re gone.

Four spread out chairs around a table in Indeed Brewing.
Indeed Brewing Company/Facebook

Take a Trip to Beerland Indeed Brewing’s Latest Set-Up

Now that businesses are able to open for business indoors, Indeed’s reservation-only offerings are all charming in their own way. The Lot is the outdoor space for those that either feel most comfortable outside or, like a true Minnesotan, actually enjoy the cold. Guests can stay warm while drinking a beer brûlée (beer with a fire poker stuck into it table-side) around a fire. The Main Taproom will be spread out to more safely accommodate and additional spaces will also be utilized such as The Den, which is their operational loading dock turned cozy nook. Up Top is the third floor of the Solar Arts Building, and Quincy Corner is their retail space for anyone that wants to order online and pay ahead or grab some beer via contactless delivery. Soon they will have a seventh option called The Milling Room as a private dining space for parties of up to ten people.

Pair Hot Cocktails with Cold Games at The Block

St. Louis Park’s The Block will be hosting ice games for Twin Cities residents that love activities. Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, bundle up and enjoy the festivities outside. In their words, “the games are cold, but the drinks are hot.” Guests and groups of up to eight are invited to play beer pong or a classic Midwesterner game of bags with a twist. The boards will be made of ice, of course. The $20 fee for a one-hour reservation will guarantee that each person in the kit will receive a s’mores kit, two free “all-inclusive resort” cocktails (with Red Bull Tropical and Maestro Dobel Tequila, oh my), and a special hot drink and food menu is available to order additional goodies from. They boast a s’mores martini on fire and Mexican Ancho tequila chili hot chocolate, for starters, that will delight any winter lover.

A small outdoor firepit with a cup of cider for guests of the cidery.
Sociable Cider Werks/Facebook

Sip Cider and Skate at Sociable Cider Werks’ Outdoor Rink

Groups of up to six are welcome to head over to Sociable Cider Werks for open skates and curling on their outdoor ice rink. While limited seats are available, guests are recommended to bring their own chairs and blankets for maximum coziness around their firepits. The ice rink also has curling happening some nights of the week. The rinks and firepits are weather permitting and close an hour before the brewery does, so be sure to plan ahead. The Sammy’s Avenue Eatery food truck is available Wednesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. is the perfect place to grab a bite. The curries, chilis, soups, and hot sandwiches with a cider in hand will warm you from the inside out.

Brave the Elements at The Freehouse’s Ice Bar Patio Pop-Up

The Freehouse’s outdoor accommodations this weekend will feature an ice bar pop-up on their patio. Local distributor Breakthru Beverage will be in attendance and there is mention of potential “fun swag giveaways.” Samples of new Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve specialty cocktails will be available to try, so if those are your spirits of choice, you’re in luck. Join them this Friday, January 22nd, and Saturday, January 23rd from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for some whiskey and winter fun.

A number of Twin Cities restaurants have resumed dine-in service. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Gnome

498 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55102 Visit Website

The Gnome Craft Pub

498 Selby Avenue, , MN 55102 (651) 219-4233 Visit Website

The Freehouse

701 North Washington Avenue, , MN 55401 (612) 339-7011 Visit Website

The Block Food & Drink

7007 Walker Street, , MN 55426 (952) 767-1117 Visit Website