Total Transformation: New Brass Rail Lounge Wows GLBT Community

As if the complete remodeling of the Gay 90’s megabar currently under way weren’t a daunting enough project for owner Peter Hafiz, he also recently completed a total transformation of its nearby smaller sibling that he acquired earlier this year. On September 25, he unveiled the awesome new Brass Rail Lounge to the oohs and aahs of appreciative patrons.

Photos by Mike Hnida

Assisting Hafiz in this endeavor was new General Manager Tony Noland. He moved here from Louisville, Kentucky—as you readily can detect from his charming Southern drawl—where he was involved in the hospitality industry.

Hafiz explains his concept for the refashioned establishment this way: “I had observed the Rail before I took it over. I wanted to maintain the lounge atmosphere, but create a classy space for it. I haven’t seen many bars locally with that lounge feeling. Now, you really get it here.”

This Hennepin Avenue landmark—celebrating its 35th anniversary as a gay bar this year—is channeling its former incarnation of a quarter-century ago, when it was a lively piano lounge. Pianists tickle the ivories on the new custom-designed grand piano in the early evening Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Other entertainment appears on the adjacent new granite stage, with state-of-the-art sound and lighting.

Elegance and comfort are the hallmarks of the new Brass Rail Lounge: granite-top bar with colored lighting; hand-painted tin ceiling in warm tones of brown, gold, and silver; faux-painted walls, with stone work on the back wall; custom-designed, Las Vegas-style carpeting; and black-leather custom seating.

Along with the new, some elements of yesteryear remain: etched mirrors, one with the classic Brass Rail logo, on the west wall; and two illuminated Tiffany-style stained-glass panels on the ceiling near the entrance.

One remarkable change that will be a great relief to everyone: the bathrooms. Now, the former grungy ones are attractive, with granite floors, walls, and countertops, along with Italian plaster ceilings. They’re handicapped-accessible, too.

Hafiz calls the new bathrooms a “miracle—we’ve gone from the worst in Minneapolis to the best.”

At the front, new floor-to-ceiling glass doors can open out to the patio when weather permits. The exterior of the building has been painted tan with blue accents. As well, the colored light bulbs above the entrance at last all are glowing. The familiar lighted sign is still there.

Check out the new Brass Rail Lounge—the perfect place to enjoy an excellent beverage in a fine ambience, plus conversation and entertainment. Best of all, amid all this magnificence, the wide selection for imbibing remains reasonably priced.

Brass Rail Lounge
422 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 332-RAIL (7245)

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