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Everybody out of the pool


Published:

Bar Louie

At Bar Louie, two Franchise Times staffers rock the pool in their boots.

Sensible Midwesterners raised a collective eyebrow when the first Bar Louie hit town with its biggest attraction: A fancy wading pool. Outside. In Minneapolis.

The average low temperature in November is 25 degrees, and it only gets worse. Plus, every northern woman born and raised knows the real attraction of winter: to at last put the peep-toes in storage, pull on some high-heeled boots and let those pedicures go until spring. Given these circumstances, who wants to dip their toes in a pool?

Bar Louie is a Dallas-based chain with more than 45 units that gives franchisees a lot of latitude in how they run each store. Their slogan is “no  two Bar Louies are the same.” And Eric Fortney, who owns the Minneapolis restaurant along with one in Columbus, Ohio, is running with it.

He added the water feature on the patio to compete with the mega-popular rooftop bars in the neighborhood, the only option because his location is on the ground floor. He plans to add a ring of heaters and a couple of fire pits to keep the place hopping as long as possible. And yes, he’s got the only wading pool in town.

Visits throughout the fall proved him right, because the patio was packed no mattter the temperature. But no one was playing in the pool, and one young man seemed indignant when asked if he’d wade in, pointing at his expensive-looking black boots and shaking his head while raising a cocktail.

To enjoy a pool party, it turns out people don’t need to jump in.

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