New Life to Old Bar - The Main Club is under new ownership

by Felicity Bosk

Photo credit: Feicity Bosk
Photo credit: Feicity Bosk

The Main Club celebrated 20 years in July of 2017. By September it was closed. It had been for sale for about five years but no one bought the LGBT bar, and previous owner Bob Jansen wanted to retire. After its closure, Shawn Roos and Larry Ricker realized the opportunity to continue its legacy. Ricker is the manager and Roos the president of Atypical Enterprises Inc., the corporation that owns the club.

Roos first visited the Main Club when it was the Main Bar in North Superior in the earlier ‘90s. On that last night of the Club in September he left early because he didn’t want to be there to see it close. Ricker was there until close because he was working behind the bar. When Roos was looking at buying the place, Jansen recommended Ricker as a possible manager.

Jansen had worked at St. Scholastica but was fired for being gay, he said. He successfully sued to the University and used the money to open the original bar in 1983. 
The building the Main Club is now in was constructed in 1926. Jansen bought it after his first Main burned down. People complained loudly when it was set to open on Tower Ave. They didn’t want it so close to downtown. Jansen said in a 2015 interview that LGBT people don’t feel the same need to go to LGBT bars like they used because they are comfortable going just about anywhere now. 

“Everyone has opinions on what could have been different,” said Roos. “I don’t want by any means detract from what he did accomplish over the years ... He got the Main Club to a certain level and we are going to bring it to a different level.”
The look and feel is extremely similar to how it had been, but it seems a lot cleaner and more organized now, and more inclusive to all groups of people.  
“Some of the things people notice now when they come in is that it looks so much cleaner and it smells so much better,” said Ricker. A few changes have been made in the past few months. A lot of the artwork is gone from the wall though most of the LED lights are still up. The leather teddy bears no longer line the ceiling. The pool tables also aren’t pink anymore, so as to be compliant with the official pool league. The bar table will be replaced and more beers will be available on tap. 

“From what I’ve seen in Superior, we have the best stage and with the new light system and a brand new dance floor to go along with that and our sound system, it’s frickin’ phenomenal,” Ricker said.
“We are finding that we have a changing paradigm,” said Roos. “We’re willing to try things that other places haven’t done or thought of and just kind of going with the flow seeing what works what doesn’t. It is a highly experimental phase.”
One of the first acts of the new Main was hosting Big Wave Dave and the Ripples, an eight-man band. Having them as the first big performance showed off the new stage and what it was capable of. Later in February, the Main hosted the performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a Broadway musical that highlights the LGBT community. In the future, Ricker wants to have events every day and support local arts and music in Superior. 

“We think a revitalization is drastically needed for Superior in music and arts,” said Ricker. “The funny thing is we have a liberal arts university here but there’s no venue within the city limits that really supports it and that is something we want to change.”
They are also interested in being part of beginning a North End Day’s in the summer, a block party celebrating the businesses on North Tower and nearby. They are exploring a lot of creative ideas right now. Like they said, they are in a highly experimental phase. They even have a green screen and want to do a late-night-talk-show for public broadcast television. 

The original Main Bar ran into issues when it first tried to open, but Roos and Ricker have only been welcomed by the community. 
“Times have changed from when The Main originally opened,” said Ricker.