When I was in elementary school at SPA, our high school squash team played at the Commodore in their original squash courts. I still remember distinctly the 1978 natural gas explosion that closed it down for years and caused injuries to my much older classmates, eliminating our squash program.

When I first moved back to Saint Paul in the early 1990s, the building had been converted into condos, which were selling for ridiculously low prices (but then, so was my house). The Commodore bar itself was a private event space, where the interior bar held its old panache (even if the light bulbs were perpetually burned out and the cocktails basically limited to well drinks). The large dining rooms had lovely old photos but a mossy green carpet and furniture that looked to have been retired after hard use from over at the University Club. Still, over the years, I enjoyed my fair share of events there.

This week, the Commodore opens anew in its old Jazz Age glory. We went tonight, during the soft opening, and met up with friends in that same bar. And I have to say, I am totally impressed.

There's a new lobby bar in what was formerly kind of a wasted space. The dining rooms are soft and elegant, and the menu looks fantastic. The central bar holds all of its former charm, but some new furniture and an extremely tempting cocktail menu. Service was extremely friendly if a bit rocky (remember, it's still a soft opening).

John Rupp is to be congratulated on a lovely new/old space that is a true boon to the neighborhood. We came back and told our roommate that he needs to bring a lovely lady there for an impressive date. And we'll be back, often. I already have dreams of making it my neighborhood bar, something that's been sadly lacking in my life since Zander closed.

Meet me for a drink?


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