Gladius Cuts New Swath in Local GLBT Bar Scene: When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

Gladius, a new upscale GLBT bar that bills itself “The New York Chic of Minneapolis,” opened September 11.

Owner Philip Berglin is renowned in the local community. He was Emperor X and Empress XIV (as Heather Haldane) of the Imperial Court of Minnesota (ICOM). As Haldane, he’s the reigning Miss Southeast Minnesota. Equally well-known General Manager Amanda Chance Evans is ICOM Countess for Life. She also is ICOM Imperial Council Cochair. Friends for 11 years, Berglin and Evans previously have worked together professionally.

Gladius Owner Philip Berglin (right) and General Manager Amanda Chance Evans. Photo by Mike Hnida

Berglin says, “We want everyone to feel welcome at Gladius. We hope to provide a more intimate setting for people and their guests. We are a great place to stop in for just one beverage or for an evening. Those who enjoy a good cocktail and personal attention to detail will find Gladius to be the right place.”

Gladius is truly an elegant space. Its theme reflects Berglin’s passion for Roman culture. Indeed, the name of the establishment derives from the Latin word for “sword.” The focal point of Gladius is its unique aqueduct with four arches, built of full white brick. Look for the staff to dress in Roman armor perennially.

Patrons have several seating options. A handsome, rhombus-shaped bar with a classy black granite top dominates the room, providing customers comfortable stools to sit on. Or, choose one of four 1940s-style, leather-upholstered booths in the arches of the aqueduct, with lighting controlled by the occupant. An elite lounge, intended for parties, accommodates 25 to 30 people. Bottle service on select spirits and wines is offered in the booths and lounge.

Evans explains, “We really want Gladius to be a place where people come to converse and communicate. We have purposely not placed any TVs for this reason. In a world of wi-fi, HD, 3G, texts, e-mails, and data packages, we feel it is time to rediscover the beauty and art of the human condition and communication. One of our customers who was sitting in a booth put it best: ‘People keep saying that the place needs art. Maybe they have not yet realized that they themselves are the art.’ This is something that Philip and I feel strongly about—our customers are our art, and no emoticon can replace the beauty of a genuine smile.”

Gladius is featuring nightly entertainment: bingo on Monday; drag show on Tuesday; Latino Night on Wednesday; karaoke on Thursday; Gladius Gladiators on Friday and Saturday. The dance floor has state-of-the-art sound, along with laser lighting and a fog system. A DJ competition is the works. Sundays will spotlight ’80s and ’90s mixes. Gladius always welcomes all suggestions for entertainment.

Berglin and Evans have been involved in community fund-raising for more than a decade, so it’s no surprise that Gladius will be hosting periodic benefits. On October 21, 6 PM, Erase Hate is cosponsored by ICOM and Johnson Brothers Distributors. For a suggested donation of $25, enjoy a wine tasting and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds go to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

On Hennepin Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis near several other community clubs, Gladius is a very welcome addition to the Twin Cities bar scene. Don’t worry about fitting in there. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!

1111 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 332-9963

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