LUSH originally opened as Lush Food Bar in 2008. Lush Food Bar was known for a great brunch on the weekends and being the cool clean modern LGBT bar.
After the passing of the previous owner, Ken Darling, Brian Johnston and James Nelson went to work reviving, re-imagining and revitalizing LUSH.
LUSH has been re-envisioned and rebuilt to be a pillar in the LGBTQQIAAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allies and Pansexual) community. Our main mission is to be the all-inclusive destination that our community needs and deserves. The first thing you will notice when you walk in the door of LUSH is a staff that is warm and welcoming. Aesthetically, you will notice that we have kept the modern industrial feel but we have softened the space with white leather sofas in the new lounge and orange candles on the tables. The white and orange warm the space to make it feel a little cozier, yet still modern. As you continue to look around the room you will see our wonderful patrons, people from different backgrounds, different colors, and different sexes, of all body types and ages, getting along and relaxing together. This is what the new LUSH is all about. If you continue to wonder back into the space, you will see a new set of double doors where the game room use to be. The entire back half of the building has been remodeled into a new event center. The new LUSH Event Center has a brand new bar, dance floor, stage and DJ/Light booth. The sound and light system (for both rooms actually) has gotten a major overhaul.
Many GLBT venues have lost the sense of community that earlier GLBT establishments were
founded on. Advances in marriage equality, gay rights and online social apps have allowed clubs
to be “lazy” and not foster the diversity and inclusiveness that historically has been a large part of
the draw of GLBT venues for their patrons. LUSH will consistently welcome and actively seek out
the many facets of the GLBT and allied communities to bring them all under one roof to dine,
drink and be entertained together.
We have hired a great chef, Chef Steph (@chefstephmn), to head our food program. Chef Steph is keeping things on the menu fresh and rotating with new and fun specials every week. We’ve become a great place to get a good burger mid-week, and the perfect place for a full dinner or date night with someone special (plus – we’ve got plenty of entertainment to complete your date night!). We’re even keeping the kitchen open late night - - open until 12a most nights. We have also added house made desserts and authentic Mexican cuisine for Taco Tuesday. Steph is great at perfecting our vision of the fresh healthy food that our queer community needs and adding in the comfort food we all crave.
Our beverage program has also got a complete face lift. We now offer just about every brand of liquor that someone could request. We have also added a new cocktail and martini list, something else that was missing in the queer community, during happy hour our martinis are half price making fine drinks available even if you are on a budget. We have even expanded and upgraded the wine menu, including great selections at just $6 during happy hour.
Lush Food Bar was founded in 2008 by prominent Boston Scientific executive, attorney and real estate
entrepreneur Kelly Phillips. It was built by remodeling the former Healy Spring building, previously a large
truck repair shop, in the Arts District of Northeast Minneapolis. LUSH featured modern décor and a high
energy atmosphere that included a large front bar and seating area with oversize garage doors that
highlighted 22 foot ceilings, a dance floor and DJ booth, many television screens, a unisex restroom with
high end finishes, a fully appointed kitchen, a separate game room, and one of Minneapolis’ most
beautiful outdoor patios.
Aimed at the affluent GLBT community of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Lush Food Bar enjoyed immediate
popularity and became known as the most modern and upscale of the Twin Cities GLBT clubs. Lush
Food Bar was known for high-energy dance music and annual block parties, it won awards for “Best
Happy Hour” and “Best Brunch” and was named one of “America’s Most Popular Bars” by Buzzfeed, as
reported by data collected from FourSquare.
Due to the unexpected passing of Mr. Phillips in 2014, Lush Food Bar was in
need of new ownership and management. The bar has continued to operate with the help of an
experienced relative of Kelly Phillip’s estate, Adam Bailey, and had maintained its faithful clientele base
and reputation in the GLBT community as one of the Twin Cities best dance clubs, brunch spots and
happy hour destinations. But it was crying out for new management and new ideas.
With this in mind, Ken assembled the team of James Nelson and Brian Johnston, two seasoned
bar/restaurant and club owner/operators. Ken, Brian and James spent months coordinating with
the current operators of Lush Food Bar to fully understand the resources, clientele and opportunities that
LUSH possessed and developed an improved and expanded concept for a new LUSH.
We are located at:
990 Central Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Parking is available in the parking lot at LUSH or we have parking available in the parking lots of our wonderful neighbors:
Brake Equipment Warehouse - 455 Harrison Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Espresso Services Inc. - 1026 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
The Event Center was purposely built to be very modular. The room can be configured into a dance hall, cabaret, dinner hall or lounge. We will be doing everything in the Event Center from drag shows to wine and beer dinners, concerts, plays, wedding receptions and corporate happy hours. We can now accommodate just about every type of event imaginable for our community. This is part of our mission -- giving our community an inclusive venue to hold their events at. If you would like more information on booking the Event Center for your event, please click here. Book the Event Center.
We have weekly shows in the Event Center that include: #DragEvolution an amateur drag contest every Wednesday, Black Hearts Burlesque shows every Friday, and #DragRevolution drag show every Saturday, and Drag Brunch on Sunday. The Friday and Saturday shows are followed by dancing in the Event Center with a live DJ until 2am.