Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Seven Steak and Sushi Gets Sold.

Seven Steak and Sushi Gets Sold. 

In my opinion, the minority share holders of the downtown destination spot Seven Steak and Sushi pretty much shot themselves in the head by pushing out the founding family of Seven. After eight years of pouring love, blood, sweat and a ton of cash into Seven, David Koch was forced out by minority share holders with a court ordered restraining order. Soon after a court ordered receiver was put into place to do whats deemed best for Seven.

 I was personally at multiple court hearings and attorney meetings and I must say it was heart breaking. I felt my own heart hurt watching Seven get high-jacked from the family who did whatever possible to keep the doors open. 

When all the dust of the fight settled the court appointed receiver looked at who in Minneapolis could pay off the $1.6 million dollar debt, some that had be accumulated from the past, and some from after the Koch family had been forced out, mutual parties came forth. In the end, Ken Sherman , owner of the Lumber Exchange and investor Ro Shirole came up with the cash.

As personal friends of the Koch family and of Ken Sherman it's been a heart tugging time just because I think the world of them both. I'm heartbroken for David and his family but glad that Ken Sherman ended up with it. Out of all parties who were in line to take over I believe Ken and Ro will do the best for Seven. 

I can only hope that Ken Sherman and Ro Shirole, the new owners and management of Seven , will keep in mind and celebrate how much the Koch family sacrificed on behalf of Seven.  I know that they will continue the hospitality upon which the Koch family built the business. You never know, you may even see some of the Kotch family back at Seven. I know I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Friday, November 11, 2016

New restaurant McKinney Roe in east downtown (East Town) Minneapolis

No plans for a Friday night meant time to check out East Town's newest restaurant, McKinney Roe. I've lived in East Town for the past five years and it has been a food and drink desert the entire time. The closest bars / restaurants to my condo up until this point were Dan Kelly's, Crooked Pint and the Hyatt Place hotel bar, god forbid.  McKinney Roe is the first bar and restaurant to put down roots east of third avenue and commit to a really great menu and atmosphere.

Gotta say. Pretty damn impressed. I just caught happy hour and I was able to try these amazing chicken skewers that were the equivalent of friggin' fried, Krispy Cream doughnuts.  Next up, the Big Stag burger; Perfectly cooked on a pretzel bun with a side of fries (served in their wire frying basket, no less). Everything was served up by some really excellent servers and bar tenders including, Andie, the manager on duty who made a point to check on everyone.

The Big Stag Burger at McKinney Roe in East Town Minneapolis.

One thing that makes or breaks a bar for me is the seat to bar height ratio. I like my bar seat to be a certain height and my bar to be a certain height. And I don't want to have to lean forward an entire foot over a bar rail to reach my food. This place got the bar stool to bar height ratio perfectly. It may be one of the only places in town, next to Seven, to do so.

The place had a really quality build out done. Four million bucks got them some pretty well done lighting and seating layouts, a carved rosewood bar and a sweet spiral staircase that leads up to a wine vault with a glass floor.

We took the skyway home, because we finally could, via the new Wells Fargo building on Fourth Street and Portland Avenue and we came across a really cool little hidden gem. On the skyway level, Wells Fargo wallpapered ten foot by twenty foot aerial images of Minneapolis from the 1800s, the twenties, the thirties and the fifties. We spent fifteen minutes locating our own condo and every other landmark in Minneapolis.

Aerial view of Minneapolis, Minnesota in the 1950's

My advise; Get to know the booming East Town. Venture out of the North Loop in a $5 Uber and check out McKinny Roe.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Star Tribune Story about L.A. Nik

(Story originally written and published by Tom Horgan for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Read it on their website by clicking HERE.)

Nightlife: L.A. Nik at night

An L.A. transplant with a rocker attitude and a taste for black nail polish has become an unlikely champion of downtown’s bar scene.

Downtown Minneapolis after dark can sometimes seem like another world. Touring it with L.A. Nik is like encountering another universe.
I spent one night with this self-appointed ultimate scenester, an outing that included a shirtless woman running down 10th Street, a backroom drag battle and a kissing horse.
L.A. Nik just seems to attract the wild side of the nightlife scene. Nik (as I'll call him) might be the most famous bar-goer in downtown. Actually, he insists -- he is the most famous person in downtown. Mayor R.T. who?
Nik, 46, looks like he stepped out of a Mötley Crüe video, circa 1985. Morning, noon and night he's clad in all-black, right down to his fingernail polish. The silver skull necklaces draped around his neck complete his character. Think Keith Richards crossed with illusionist Criss Angel (he'll kill me for saying that -- the Criss Angel part, at least).
Nik landed in Minnesota two years ago like a marooned astronaut. He adapted to his new surroundings by turning downtown into his kingdom. For him, Minneapolis is free of Tinseltown's pretension yet filled with undiscovered gems. He loves downtown. For the most part, it loves him. Here, he acts like a goodwill ambassador, shaking hands and talking up the area's restaurants as if he's the Aging Rocker Delegate to the Downtown Council.
"I'm like a politician, man," he'll say.
Minnesotans sometimes treat Nik like a zoo animal, taking photos of him with their cellphones. So for the past two months, he's been promoting a photo contest on his website: "Take a Pic With L.A. Nik." Snap a shot with him, send it in and the best one will win $1,000 (deadline is Wednesday). The purpose, he says, is to get people to come downtown.
"I eat, play and stay in downtown," Nik said (he lives in Loring Park, but formerly lived for 13 months in the Hotel Minneapolis).
Nik is so sure of downtown's greatness, he told me he will act as a personal tour guide to anyone who asks.
So I asked him. And he showed me his downtown.
Drag queens and cops
It was a brisk Saturday night. We began at Zelo, the swank Italian restaurant favored by junior executives. Nik was the only person with a giant skull belt buckle. Drinks seem to find their way into his hands. "We like colorful people," a manager told me.
Next was Wondrous Azian Kitchen, where owner Thom Pham told me Nik is "the craziest person I've ever met" (this coming from Thom Pham). The two are reviving "The Gong Show" at Pham's bar every Sunday night. Later, we went to Seven and Lure, where Nik easily struck up conversations with strangers (mostly women). Missing by his side this night was his girlfriend Nancy Kuehn, a photographer for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. He talks about her incessantly.
Back on the street, we ran into one of Nik's friends, who took us into the new Cowles Center. We were thrown into a rowdy, packed room where an all-black drag-queen contest was in full swing. It was like a scene out of the movie "Paris Is Burning." The crowd was electric with tall men in bright, skin-tight outfits. We slipped out after about 15 minutes.
"I'll try anything once!" Nik said.
'Charlie Sheen' problems
Despite his nickname, Nik grew up Nickolas Pilotta in Delaware.
"I've been called every name in the book, but I knew who I was going to be by the ninth grade," he said.
He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, where he drummed in bands but never found stardom. Still, he lived the life. He opened a club, hung out with famous comedians and befriended hair-metal gods. I asked him if he did a lot of coke.
"Absolutely," he said. "I was like Charlie Sheen. People were just throwing me 8-balls."
Fast-forward to 2009: Nik was clean of drugs and working several angles, one of which brought him to the Twin Cities. He designed a mall kiosk called "Go Hollywood Live," which allowed customers to record audition tapes for movies and TV shows. It lasted for eight months at the Mall of America. But he was here to stay.
Saving downtown from itself
During our late-night adventure, two police officers flagged down Nik on the street. Turns out: cops love him.
"Nik, how you doing!" one shouted.
Nik has a mischievous look to him, but he thinks of himself as a downtown steward, a Downtown Improvement District officer without the uniform. He's concerned about recent incidents of teenagers fighting on Nicollet Mall.
"That needs to be nipped in the bud real quick," he told the two cops. "That'll scare people from coming downtown."
Not everyone is charmed by Nik. Some people think he's full of B.S. (which is how one downtown player put it).
Nik says he's an entrepreneur. He's famous for his "Favorite People" parties at Hell's Kitchen. Right now, he's working on his own energy drink and opening a club in downtown. On his website, RockinThisTown.com, he calls himself a "professional entertainment personality."
In September, Nik co-hosted the red carpet at the Ivey Awards with Fox 9's Todd Walker, another man about town.
"I got the feeling he's created a character and now he's selling it to Minneapolis," Walker said. "But I'm not sure anyone is buying it."
Well past midnight, an intoxicated woman came streaking toward us as we walked down 10th Street. Nik, concerned for her dignity, pleaded with the woman to put her shirt back on. We escaped the bizarre episode once the woman's boyfriend arrived.
The last stop of the night was the W Hotel. Its 27th-floor bar, Prohibition, is home to Nik's favorite bartender.
Outside, I learn he has a favorite horse, too. As we crossed the street in front of the Foshay Tower, a carriage approached.
"Oh, this is my guy," Nik said. It was unclear if he was referring to the driver or the half-ton steed. Nik went straight to the horse, stroking its belly and resting his cheek against the steed's furry hide.
"What's up, buddy," he said, massaging the horse. "I got your spot -- right there."
The beast swung its giant head around to greet Nik in the face. "I got your spot," Nik repeated as he looked into the creature's dark eyes.
Yes, even animals love L.A. Nik.
(Story by Tom Horgan, Reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune)
(Listen to L.A. Nik’s podcast Minneapolis 911 on the Tom Barnard Network by clicking HERE.) 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New Episode of Minneapolis 911: Addiction and Eating Disorders

Enjoy this week's podcast of Minnepolis 911. Hessley Rey and myself talk about addiction and eating disorders through our own personal stories and we're joined by addiction counselor, Jason Walter of We Care Minnesota. In addition, we bring you the week's most interesting clips from Minneapolis Police Department live dispatch.

Listen to the podcast HERE!

L.A. Nik and comedian, Hessley Rey, at their weekly taping of the Minneapolis 911 podcast on the Tom Barnard Network.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Episode 19 of Minneapolis 911: Should Minneapolis Police Officers carry liability insurance?

Click HERE to listen to this week's episode of Minneapolis 911.

This week on Minneapolis 911, we talk with Cole Yates - campaign manager for the Campaign to Insure the Police.  According to Yates, the campaign is trying to encourage police to carry their own liability insurance just like yoga instructors, plumbers and roofers. The goal of the campaign is to reduce police brutality through the democratic process.

According to Yates, the city budgets $2.5 to 3 million per year for police brutality. So the Campaign to Insure the Police has proposed an amendment to use that money to pay for the base rate of police liability insurance. Within the amendment, a regular police officer wouldn't see any out of pocket expenses. If a police officer is found guilty of committing brutality they are going to see an increase in premiums and they would have to pay the difference for the insurance.

Over the past six years, The Campaign to Insure the Police collected over 15,000 signatures from people who want to see the issue of police liability insurance put on the ballot. The problem is, city council kept this issue off the ballot even though the signatures were collected on the citizen petition.

According to Cole Yates, Jabob Frey came out during the city council meeting on the topic to say that the issue was too complex for voters to decide. So, the amendment was not put on the ballot even though it is city council's duty to do this very thing.  So, according the Yates, because the city broke the law the Campaign to Insure the Police is suing to get the amendment on the ballot.

Check out this week's show to hear more about the topic as well as  Live Minneapolis Police Dispatch calls and L.A. Nik's Fun Fact of the Week! Click HERE to listen!

Listen to live Minneapolis Police Dispatch at Minneapolis911.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Car to car shootings on the rise in Minneapolis

This week on Minneapolis 911, our first hour long show, we talk about the outrageous number of car to car shootings that are occurring in Minneapolis.

Just this past week, a Minneapolis fire truck was struck by three bullets by a passing car on the corner of 28th street and Bloomington avenue south at 4:45pm. That's right. It happened in broad daylight! And the firetruck was not the intended target! The fire truck was merely in the way of two cars that were shooting at one another. You can read more about the story HERE.

Days before the fire truck was hit, a shoot out between two cars in North Minneapolis left a toddler, who was riding in the car seat of the back of a mini-van, dead. His sibling riding next to him was struck by a bullet in the leg but lived. Their dad, who was driving the car, was supposedly one of the shooters involved. More about that story can be seen HERE.

People who don't live downtown and who don't have their finger on the pulse of the city might chalk this up to coincidence. It is not a coincidence. These shootings between cars is out of control in Minneapolis. I record live police dispatch calls in order to play clips on my show that illustrate what is really going on in the city of Minneapolis.  This week, I recorded a man who requested a police officer to meet him after his car was hit by multiple bullets. Also, a shoot out between two cars near the University of Minnesota left 24 shell casings on the ground at one intersection from one gun and five from another gun. Those two cars shot at each other again at another intersection before being caught.
No one was killed in the shoot out at the University of Minnesota and so guess what, it was never in the media. The reason I play these clips on our podcast is to make people aware of what exactly is going on in this city right under our noses. If we don't acknowledge it, it will continue and it will get worse.

Listen to the live police dispatch clips and my show, Minneapolis 911, HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Upscale Seven Steak and Sushi will stay Seven Steak and Sushi.

The rooftop of Seven Steak and Sushi

For weeks, rumors swirled, people gossiped and some reliable sources sounded that Stella's Fiish Cafe was buying into the upscale family run Seven Steak and Sushi. After sitting down the mastermind behind Seven, David Koch, he told me there had been some talks between the two entities but assured me it wasn't meant to be.

He stated that Seven is going to stay a New York City Upper East Side style, premium destination spot for downtown Minneapolis and it will stay family run by the three generations of Koch's who work there. It's not just a restraunt/nightclub with the best rooftop in Minneapolis, it's a place to see and be seen. 

Seven is always visited by the top Minnesota athletes and many celebrities who happen to be in town.  I'll  always be a huge fan of Seven for its amazing food, drinks and the best hospitality in the industry.  Some things are just meant to stay great! Thank heavens! If you haven't had the chance to visit Seven make it your next downtown experience. You won't regret it!
Make reservations HERE!

Lamb chops with mash potatoes is one of my favorite things on the menu.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Episode five of Minneapolis 911 with L.A. Nik & Hessley Rey: ShotSpotter

Click HERE to listen to this week's podcast.

This week on the podcast we talk about a system used nationwide, including right here in Minneapolis, for locating gunfire. The system in Minneapolis is called ShotSpotter and the purpose of it is to detect the location of gun fire so that dispatchers can send out first responders to quickly deal with gun shot victims, secure witnesses and generally deter gun violence.

Here is a Minneapolis ShotSpotter map from May 3rd to May 9th, 2016.

As you can see, blue stars represent confirmed shootings of which their were twelve during this seven day time frame. If you listen to the news, it should come as no surprise that most shootings occur in North Minneapolis followed by downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis' ShotSpotter system was featured on AOL News. Check out THIS VIDEO to see how the system works in our community.

Fifteen to twenty sensors are placed within a square mile in hidden locations. Shockwaves caused by gun fire activate the sensors and then triangulation between the sensors is used to determine the location of the gun fire and alert the police. Check out the science of it in THIS National Geographic video.

Here's what gets me. Nearly every time I have brought up ShotSpotter in conversation in Minneapolis, the person listening looks at me with a complete look of disbelief as though I am lying about its existence. That look is almost always followed up with something like, "Well, it could just be car backfire or firecrackers that the system is picking up." It's a valid point. And despite the fact that the systems are programmed to know the difference between a firecracker and a gun shot, people not wanting to believe that we have gun fire right here in Minneapolis is a more important point to me.

This week we had 45 bullet casings found at Penn Avenue north and Olson Memorial Highway after a man was shot and killed at 3:30pm in the afternoon. According to a Star Tribune STORY detectives are looking into the possibility that the shooting was a retaliation to last week's shooting at Newton and Sixteenth Avenue north that killed one and injured seven; An alleged gang-related shooting.

I record my podcast every week in an attempt to make people aware that we have problems here in Minneapolis. My goal is to start a conversation so that we can find solutions.  Denial solves nothing. Driving off to south Minneapolis and the western suburbs after a day of work downtown doesn't mean you will remain untouched by the violence. 

Downtown is the heartbeat of the Minneapolis metro. That shooting on Penn Avenue happened at 3:30pm in the afternoon. If this city gets any worse, companies will pull out of downtown. If Minneapolis fails, Wayzata fails and so on.  It's called the Broken Window Effect. 

*Minneapolis 911 is a weekly podcast on the Tom Barnard Network. It can also be found at www.MayorOfMinneapolis.com


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Episode three of Minneapolis 911 with L.A. Nik and Hessley Rey

This week on Minneapolis 911 we tackle the tough subjects that no one wants to talk about. Listen to it HERE!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Episode Two of Minneapolis 911 with L.A. Nik and Hessley Rey

This week on the podcast we talk drugs,  mental illness and welfare....and of course, the nicest place to go to the bathroom in downtown Minneapolis. Also, we listen to some pretty funny highlights from the weekend's police dispatch calls.

Click HERE to listen!


Sunday, April 10, 2016

L.A. Nik's New Podcast on the Tom Barnard Network: Episode One

It's a pleasure to introduce my new podcast Minneapolis 911 where my comedian co-host Hessley Rey and I talk about everything Minneapolis that no one else will talk about.

This week on the show, we discuss Fentanyl - a synthetic drug fifty times stronger than heroin that is responsible for a rash of overdoses. We also talk about the city's new ban on plastic bags, the best street in town for drag racing and the psych ward that is Minneapolis Central Library.

Click HERE to listen!

Friday, April 1, 2016

My new show starts Monday, April 11th on the Tom Barnard Network

L.A. Nik explores the issues that everyone else is afraid to talk about with his comedian, co-host Hessley Rey. The show features Minneapolis Police Dispatch calls for service. Show starts streaming on www.TomBarnardPodcast.com on Monday, April 11th.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Listen to Live Minneapolis Police Dispatch Here

    Hear the real truth about what is going on in Minneapolis. Listen to a live feed of the Minneapolis Police Dispatch HERE!  (Instructions: Click link and hit 'play' button.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meet Minneapolis- Brainwashing a City. The Marketing of Minneapolis.

(Updated 02/04/16)

        In their own words, the purpose of Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (our city’s tourism department) is to “market, sell and maximize the visitor experience of Minneapolis for the benefit of our community.”   They’ve done a great job!  In fact, I propose that they have done their job too well!  With their help, our city has received distinctions such as,  “The Healthiest City in America” by Forbes magazine and “The Best City in America to Live” by Patch of Earth online aggregate magazine and “Best City for Bikes” and “The Gayest City in America." (Has anyone ever been to West Hollywood or San Francisco? They have a gay phonebook!! Trust me, Minneapolis is not the gayest city in America by far!)

    While all these titles were being thrown around and championed, we were all distracted by the truth of our city. Like the fact that our city has the third highest number of reported rapes of any city in the country. Keep in mind, 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to police.  

     According to KSTP, in 2015 rape in Minneapolis was up 22%, murder was up 16%, and aggravated assaults were up 10% with over 450 rapes within Minneapolis city limits within the last 11 months.  Meet Minneapolis has mastered the smoke and mirrors trick! Look over here at our bike paths but don’t mind the guy being beat up and robbed.

    The city has been marketed so well that when I tell locals that our violent crime rate is higher than San Diego and Philadelphia, according to a Star Tribune story published on Dec. 24th, they look at me with a glazed over look in their eyes as if to say, “That's a bunch of crap! It's not true.”

    No one realizes that the city of Minneapolis does not prosecute any felony arrests (shootings and stabbings are examples of felony arrests). They only prosecute petty crime. Felony arrests are kicked to Hennepin County for prosecution in county court. Unfortunately, Hennepin county has a history of reducing felonies to misdemeanors or dropping charges altogether due to over crowded prisons.  For example, the perpetrator involved at the shooting a few months ago at Fifth and Hennepin, where over 30 shots were fired and three people were hit,  had been arrested over fifty times before that shooting. Thats 5-0!! He was still walking the streets. How is that possible?  This is a common occurrence in Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. And guess what, it looks a lot better to visiting tourists and companies looking to relocate downtown. Minneapolis - City of Lakes has a lot better ring to it than, Minneapolis - City of Aggravated Assaults!

Click HERE to watch a short video on Violent Crime in Downtown Minneapolis

    Marketing of cities is occurring nation wide. Take Detroit for example. Check out their tourism board’s website.  It’s a great looking website that’s currently advertising a tour of Detroit’s “sassy street art scene.”  Calling your city’s graffiti problem “a sassy art scene” and sending tourists on a tour of it by bus is merely genius marketing and it does a hell of a job of distracting tourists from Detroit’s “sassy” crime rate!  Detroit has the highest number of aggravated assaults and violent crimes in the country (Don’t worry Minneapolis, we kicked Detroit’s ass in number of reported rapes per population). 

An example of marketing a city.  Detroit tourism board's website
advertising a tour of "Sassy street art!" Otherwise called, 'graffiti.'

    In Minneapolis we’ve got bike paths and farm-to-table. Winter sports and sustainability! Psssst….. We're also currently ranked worst state in the United States for racial integration, “with black residents lagging their white counterparts in education, income and homeownership,” according to a recent Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal article. I have a feeling that even our leaders are starting to believe our own tourism-department-created marketing.   

    Marketing is hype.  It’s trickery.  It has a place and a purpose. Marketing sells wrinkle creams, cars and even sells tourists on cities. The citizens of Minneapolis were not the intended target of Meet Minneapolis' marketing hocus-pocus but somewhere along the line we drank their Kool-Aid.  It's time now for you to open your eyes and see the truth behind the curtain that is the marketing machine. Denial solves nothing. We must face our problems in order to find solutions before it's too late. - L.A. Nik

Follow me for updates on Facebook.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Metal Heads and Half-Naked Nuns: L.A. Nik Hosts Halloween HellFest (Photos and Video)

This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting Halloween Hell Fest V which included seven of Minnesota's most entertaining metal bands and their craziest fans all dressed up to win a costume contest that would land them a Jackson Guitar from Capitol Guitars of St. Paul and a cash prize. From a guy dressed up as a corpse in a body bag to a bloody, sexy, sparkly, half-naked clown, the photos will not disappoint.

But before you scroll down to see the photos, check out this interview with my favorite Minnesota metal band,  Blue Felix. They're the showmen of showmen and anyone who knows me knows that I believe that entertainment MUST be a part of the live, music experience.  This band has mastered just that. 

Photos of Halloween HellFest V

Lindy Gabriel of Gabriel and the Apocalypse

Blue Felix and their fans.

Finalist  (center) in the Halloween costume contest.

The first place winner of the costume contest.

I was worried about the future of metal until I saw the band Splitdriven
invite this young metal head on stage to sing.

L.A. Nik with members of the band, Blue Felix, before their
Halloween HellFest show on Oct. 31, 2015.

L.A. Nik with Lindy of Gabriel and the Apocalypse.

This Gwar costume took third place in the costume contest.

City of the Weak

Finalists in the Halloween costume contest.

Blue Felix.

Blue Felix