JJ Astor, Bowery Bros. to be rebranded by Minneapolis restaurateur
The Radisson's rotating restaurant will become The Apostle supper club and piano lounge this spring. When that restaurant's rebranding is finished, the first-floor Bowery Bros. Pub will become the False Eyedoll retro Tiki bar.
DULUTH — The restaurants at the downtown Radisson Hotel Duluth-Harborview will be getting makeovers in 2022.
Brian Ingram, chief executive officer of Purpose Driven Restaurants based in the Twin Cities, is undertaking rebranding projects for the Bowery Bros. Pub and the JJ Astor revolving restaurant.
Ingram plans to start construction at the top of the Radisson about a month from now. The revolving restaurant, which in 2010 was rebranded from Top of the Harbor to JJ Astor, will again get a name change with its face-lift.
When it reopens, which Ingram hopes will be in April barring supply chain delays, it will become The Apostle supper club and piano lounge.
The Apostle will have a "Palm Springs 1960s supper club atmosphere," Ingram said.
The concept for the restaurant was originally designed to come to life in the Twin Cities. But when Carl Kaeding, who owns the Radisson through Compass 45 Hospitality, reached out to Ingram to "rebrand and refresh" the hotel's dining options, Ingram said it was the perfect theme for the revolving restaurant.
“I just thought it was such a unique restaurant and such a cool space, and we like doing restorations of restaurants," Ingram said. "Most of my restaurants are in old, historic buildings.”
The Apostle will still rotate, but Ingram plans to design round booths facing out toward the windows, instead of the current back-to-back booth setup with the windows to the side. The ideal timing is about 90 minutes to make a full rotation, to give guests time to see the whole panoramic view during a meal without getting dizzy. He also plans to incorporate a lot of greenery, because in the winter, it can "feel like you're at the top of an ice cube," he said.
Some of the construction of large furniture pieces, like the booths, may have to be done inside the restaurant on the 16th floor. The freight elevator at the Radisson is more than 50 years old, and not as big as some of the pieces Ingram hopes to install. All kitchen appliances they replace also need to be electric, not gas, which Ingram said have been difficult to find.
Purpose Driven Restaurants has been operating the Radisson restaurants for the last few months so they can learn the atmosphere customers and employees want. Ingram said he knows many people rely on JJ Astor for special occasion dinners, but he also wants to incorporate a lounge area and menu items that are accessible for people to stop in to enjoy the view without needing to break the bank.
Ingram, who has more than three decades of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, said he has worked closely with the Food Network and Travel Channel, and he plans to collaborate with chefs he knows through his network to vamp up menu offerings, and even potentially offer special nights with them as guest chefs.
During The Apostle's renovation, the Bowery Bros. Pub downstairs will remain open to Radisson guests and the public. Once The Apostle opens, then work on the pub will begin. It will be transformed into the False Eyedoll retro bar with 1960s-era hockey masks as its central decor element. It will incorporate Tiki, voodoo and totem-like idols with the masks.
“We wanted to make sure that there’s not any appropriations or totems that would come across,” Ingram said. “Hockey players are very superstitious, so we just want to create this really fun rum bar downstairs. There’s a couple great speakeasies in Duluth already, so we just wanted to have a different take and a different option for folks.”
Ingram's Purpose Driven Restaurants, which operates Hope Breakfast Bar, The Gnome Craft Pub, Woodfired Cantina and Purple Ice Cream in the Twin Cities, was formed in 2019 with his wife, Sarah. In addition to creating and operating restaurant concepts, they also prioritize giving back to communities through their nonprofit, Give Hope. Ingram said he plans to do the same in Duluth, including potential partnerships with hospitals and shelters to give food to families in need.
JJ Astor and the Bowery Bros. will remain open until construction on each restaurant begins.