MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Anthony Polski moved his family’s 73-year-old restaurant, Market BBQ, to an abandoned building in Northeast Minneapolis, he didn’t just pack up a few things: He literally moved everything.
“Every single stitch, the wall, the carpet, the etched glass windows, every single light fixture,” Polski said.
It was not a universally popular idea. “Yes, my family told me it was crazy,” he said.
The owner of Market Bar-B-Que’s building on Nicollet Avenue sold his building to be transformed into apartments. When Polski’s family bought a new building in Northeast, he decided he wanted to take everything with him. The wallpaper, every piece of wood wainscoting, the entire, giant, wooden bar.
“This carpet was in our basement for 50 years,” he laughed. “It’s not cheap to find someone to install old carpeting.”
In a preservation process worthy of the Smithsonian, Polski moved it all to Market Bar-B-Que’s new home. “That’s what meant everything to me. It had to feel like home to me and the customers,” he said.
The level of detail is absolutely unbelievable. Over the booths are collections of framed photos of athletes, politicians and celebrities. The pictures are all in the same order. Over the same booths.
“We went to the moon. It’s just nuts,” Polski said.
His obsessive recreation even extends to the kitchen, which is laid out identically to the old kitchen.
“Light switches in the same spot, clipboards in the same spot, knives in the same spot,” he said.
Anthony is the third generation Polski to run Market Bar-B-Que. Steve Polski taught his son about passion. About building a business that’s about more than just food.
“We basically withstood the vicissitude of time, because every generation adds a jolt of adrenaline to an old family business,” he said.
The Polskis and their employees didn’t even need to get new keys, because Anthony brought the original doors, complete with the original locks.
“It was insane,” laughed pitmaster Michael Hammond, who’s been working the barbeque pit at Market Bar-B-Que for 42 years. How does he feel at the new location?
“At home,” he said.
Not only is Hammond’s pit the same. Same racks. Same fire. Same honest barbeque.
Building everything new would have considerably cheaper. But to Anthony, the loss of history, of continuity, of family: would have come at a tremendous cost.
“It feels like the Market,” he said. “It feels like home the second you walk in.”
220 NE Lowry Ave., Minneapolis
Open Daily 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.