A bar with no name

…I went through Winona to a bar with no name, it felt good to be out of the rain… (Okay, I took some liberties with this America song, and, yes, I crack myself up, because really, it’s been raining here, and really, this bar has no name)

Wellll, kind of. As the story goes, Ed Hoffman opened a cool little speakeasy in 2007 in downtown Winona, but the place was finished being remodeled before he had finished noodling around what he would call it. So he opened anyway, with just a Prohibition-looking sign that featured a liquor bottle with XXX across it, a guitar, and a feather (okay, I don’t know why a feather, but hey, he’s an artist, and the sign got the point across).

In what has to be the most complete act of faith ever, he unlocked the door and opened for business without a name, with nothing really except some word of mouth from people in the know.

But it turns out this place is so cool it doesn’t need a name. Slowly but steadily people started to wander in, having heard about Ed’s live music or his urban palate of micro brews or the moody decor that is a deliberate blend of Victorian splendor, retro glamor and warehouse district grunge. Yeah, you kind of have to see it to get it, but trust me, it’s pretty cool.

Fast forward four years: The bar still has no official name and has evolved to be known as Ed’s (no name) Bar. It is the heartbeat of Winona’s music scene and the darling of a cross section of people so wide you could never list all their walks of life. On any given night, old timers sip Grain Belt at the bar while young guns sample the latest IPA, or vice versa, and the elbow rubbing is the coolest in town.

And I mean cool. On Friday night, there was a guy with a Mohawk on one side of me, a museum curator on the other, and a 70-year-old guy in front of me telling me why he loved the IPA on tap. I mean seriously, where else can you go that you can change the conversation and the vibe by 180 degrees just by turning around? On Friday the joint was jumping with a funkadelic DJ, Saturday is the 80s Prom, and next weekend the bar will play host to a full line up of diverse musicians coming to town for the Midwest Music Fest. On the calendar going forward is everything from metal to gospel, with beer tasting nights, comedians, readings, you name it. Ed’s events fill up Winona’s dance card in a way no place in town has done before, and Winona is loving it.

Now that the weather is nice, the fenced in garden out back with it’s big clay fire pit will become the city’s hot spot for a beer under the stars, or a glass of wine, or a bottle of wine, which you can buy at Ed’s instead of going back for a bunch of glasses. Now don’t go there thinking you need to drink a whole bottle of wine, and if you do for God’s sake don’t drive, but I’m just saying it’s an option if you are with FRIENDS. But hey, I’m not your mother.

I have fallen in love with this little no name place. It’s one of the few places in town I feel like I could sit in by myself and not feel weird. Uhh, I’m not saying I do that. Okay I’m not saying I do that often. But I think it’s a pretty big statement about a place to think that you could. It’s better with friends though – I suggest you bring a couple with you. That is, after all, how this little bar made its name, or rather managed to thrive without one.

You can find out more about the place on Facebook, or check them out here for a little peek: http://www.edsnonamebar.com

And this photo was taken at a different rock concert in Winona, but Ed has cool bands like this too. I just haven’t photographed them because I’ve been too busy daaaaancing.  🙂

Winona’s music scene is coming to life

3 thoughts on “A bar with no name

  1. Alex says:

    it is almost too bad that you wrote this as soon as you did, because we were both at a beautiful no-name affair Monday night:
    a rockabilly band from Spain, Cat Club, played their 1st ever show in America at our favorite(?) little corner bar…with late publicity…on a Monday…and it was packed and hoppin’.
    oh, and it was in Winona MN…which shouldn’t be on the radar for a band from Valencia Spain.
    what a great thing for both band and attendee!
    *actually, the more i think about it…the crazier it even is…a crowd chanting “una mas, una mas” in this little corner of the block/state/country is surreal.

  2. Dennis says:

    I remember there was a bar called “The no Name Place” in downtown Winona back in the early ’80s (loved it by the way). I wonder if Ed’s is on the same location

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