Those of you who don’t frequent the unfortunate expanse that is the bar district along First Avenue in Minneapolis, may not know about Bellanotte. From what I can tell, it’s your typical enforced dress code, skanky ladies skip the line, $10 martinis type of place at night, and apparently they serve food too. I, personally, haven’t been, but I can infer from the crowd I see outside (and from the coworkers I know who go there), so you can consider me an authority.

Those of you who don’t live in Blaine, and have never been paid to drink there, may not know about Bella, the somewhat more, shall we say, suburban, cousin of the original. And when I say suburban, what I might actually mean to say is that it’s in a strip mall. It’s an endcap, yes, but it’s still next door to Von Hanson’s Meats, and one door over I believe is Mansetti’s Pizza and Pasta (with lunch buffet).

Myself, resigned to my suburban home life as I am, have always actually liked that strip mall. Kitchen Party always features lots of cooking gadget porn for me to ogle, and Mei Wei has some pretty damn good strip mall szechuan chicken for the price (not to mention the military discount at Tournament Liquor). But a year or so ago, I found my simple life upset by an ominously glowing object that could have been a UFO, but appeared to have landed (seriously, the thing is lit up like a christmas tree, and the lights change colour in rhythmic sequence)… It seems that the yuppitastic Club West development with its DINKs and townhouses and Lexii had attracted some attention. Bella had landed. And it had valet parking.
Sure, it represented an offshoot of everything I hated when I lived downtown, and the sheer pretentiousness of valet parking in a strip mall defies belief. But hey, they were promising fancy food and silly drinks within walking distance. So I gave it a chance. And then I gave it another. After the third time, I realized that I’d actually rather eat at the Chili’s across the street — at least the crap was cheaper there (and the drinks are cheaper at the Blaine VFW).

So, I ignored Bella. Sure, it was silly, and misplaced and overpriced but not worth a mention here (except for maybe the fact that someone there knows how to buy gin). Until yesterday, when I drove by a new sign that the management had put up. A sign that inspired the poetry of yesterday (sorry). A sign that transcends explanation. But I must try.

You know those really cheap temporary signs? The ones with a black background and multi-coloured neon letters (with all different type sizes) — like these, but with brighter letters?. So, imagine the kind of skanky-fancy restaurant that I’m sure you now think of when you hear Bella or Bellanotte. Now, imagine the sign, advertising for that restaurant; making sure that everyone in the neighbourhood knows, that Monday is “Family Night”. And Tuesday? All you can eat pasta. For just $12.99.

Welcome to the neighbourhood boys. I’m glad you’ve finally decided to try to fit in.