A new restaurant, craft cocktail bar, and community space is in the works in North Minneapolis. Tap In is the work of New Rules, a real estate collective led by developer Chris Webley, and restaurant design lead Sophie Weber, plus a larger team of designers, architects, and community members. They’re converting an old gas station at Lowry Avenue and Upton Avenue into a lush, earth-themed space for dining, artist residencies, and social gathering.
Tap In is working hand-in-hand with Crystal-based restaurant Milton’s to develop a food program: Expect a pared-down menu that mirrors Milton’s fresh, casual American fare (think barbecue rib nachos, caprese sandwiches, and California clubs) plus a few added vegan and vegetarian dishes. The restaurant is designed to fuse the needs of the workday — lunch, space to meet and collaborate — with an evening space that hosts live music, artist residencies, social events, and more.
“The number one thing that the community wanted us to address was access to food, and healthy food, but also to social events and workspaces,” says Webley. “Before, Banana Blossom was open, so we had at least a few options on the corridor. But when they closed during the pandemic, it became very evident that [something was missing] — I just walked into my house to eat lunch. It would have been nice to pop into a restaurant and grab a bite to eat.”
The restaurant itself has a spiritual bend. The curved cocktail bar, nestled into a corner, will be anchored by a “tree of life” driftwood sculpture hung with lanterns, and an altar will serve as the focal point of the dining space. The rafters will drip with greenery. Outside, there’ll be a plaza and a renovated shipping container for artist residencies and live music performances, and Tap In will also host dance classes and other workshops. AWH architects and Shea Design have been helping with the design process — take a virtual 3D tour here.
“This space is being designed and anchored in an element of spirit and community building — the tagline we’re using is ‘tap into abundance,’” says Webley. “It’s kind of being designed as a beer garden, for lack of better words, without the beer. There’s gonna be tons of greenery in the space and around the space. There’s going to be a living feeling.”
Tap In is rooted in New Rules’ larger goal of community-led, non-extractive real estate. Webley says there isn’t really a “landmark destination” on the Northside that serves as a restaurant, workspace, and evening social space all in one — so Tap In is designed to change that. “We approach real estate from the lens of the ecosystem,” says Webley. “You can’t just do housing in a neighborhood. Most people, like me, want amenities like places where I can go to get coffee, and movies, and games, amenities that other neighborhoods have. Our model is always created in partnership with the community — it was the community who said they needed food.”
Webley says the team is planning to open on October 15. Keep an eye on Tap In’s Instagram page for updates.