‘Low-key’ bar opens in downtown Winona

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Port 507 opened in downtown Winona on Thursday, March 16. The bar, which resides in the space formerly occupied by Costumes International, is owned by Chad Brink, former manager of both Gabby’s and Market Street Tap in Winona. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

Port 507 opened in downtown Winona on Thursday, March 16. The bar, which resides in the space formerly occupied by Costumes International, is owned by Chad Brink, former manager of both Gabby’s and Market Street Tap in Winona. (Photo by Nikko Aries)

Kilat Fitzgerald / Winonan

Port 507, a new bar in downtown Winona, has dropped its anchor at the intersection of Second and Johnson streets.

After a soft opening on Thursday, March 16, the bar opened to the St. Patrick’s Day crowds on Friday, March 17. The crowd was a group of green-clad Winona residents welcoming the addition to the downtown bar scene.

The name is inspired by the proximity to the river, coupled with the idea “port.” The area code, 507, is associated with many people in Winona whose phone numbers begin with those very digits.

Patrons might notice a focus of quality over quantity, a point the owner, Chad Brink, plans to use when helping his establishment stand out from the rest.

“I just want a welcoming social atmosphere, just a relaxed vibe,” Brink said. “I think when people walk in, this will set itself apart from everything downtown.”

For those looking to have a laid back night with close friends, Port 507 has the atmosphere they would be looking for. With the absence of loud music, one can even expect to hold a conversation at normal volume.

On tap is a series of domestic beers, many of which were picked due to their local Minnesota brewing origins. The new Island City Brewing Company also has a beer present at Port 507, served in a glass opened at an angle to give it an appealing aroma, taste and visual aesthetic.

The walls have a modern industrial look with sections adorned with metallic art pieces.

Six flat screen TVs hang above the horseshoe- shaped bar, allowing the screens to be seen from multiple angles.

Games in the back include a pool table and an arcade set adorned with plastic orange shotguns.

Brink has run bars in the past, managing both Gabby’s and Market Street Tap in Winona at different points in his career. He managed Gabby’s for 14 years. This endeavor is his alone, allowing a brand identity to be built from the ground up.

“I’m a pretty low-key guy, and that’s what I want my bar to be,” Brink said.

The new bar owner started as a bartender, and said he wanted to have his own place ever since. After being told by two of his bosses at Gabby’s how he should have his own bar, Brink turned their advice into action.

“That’s great when you have people who, right now, would be considered your competition, who are pushing you and want you to do better,” Brink said. “It says a lot about them, and I love it. I love being behind the bar and I love interacting with everybody.”

When developing a business, word of mouth is helpful for bringing in more customers, Brink said, adding, “If people aren’t talking about your place, guess what; it’s probably not successful.”

With the new bar’s proximity to campus, college students have already began to test out the new establishment.

When Winona State University student Brianna Basolo goes out, she’s looking for “Some place that isn’t extremely crowded.”

“I don’t like to go downtown and stand,” Basolo said.

A grand opening for Port 507 is set for April.

By Kilat Fitzgerald

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