Warming House seeks a new hearth

Warming House
Indie folk/pop duo The Sea The Sea plays a show in 2016 at the Warming House. Submitted photo

A 40-seat East Harriet music venue has closed its doors, but its founders plan on reopening in a new location once the COVID-19 pandemic blows over.

The Warming House, a nonprofit that operated out of Farmstead Bike Shop’s basement at 40th & Bryant, wants a slightly larger space that’s still cozy, co-founder Brianna Lane said.

She said she wants the new space to be wheelchair accessible and for the venue to be able to serve beer, wine and coffee.

Lane, an Americana singer/songwriter, co-owns Farmstead Bike Shop with her partner, Greg Neis. Lane, Neis and fellow singer/songwriter John Louis opened the Warming House in May 2016.

They considered the venue to be a “listening room,” which Lane said is more akin to a black box theater than a music club.

“It is expected that the audience would be quiet and listening instead of drinking and being rowdy,” she said.

Lane, who is executive director, said the Warming House hosted between 200 and 300 musical acts each year and paid artists 80% of ticket sales for their performances.

The venue also held open mic nights, weekly Saturday morning jam sessions and networking and workshopping sessions for songwriters and people interested in the music business. It offered internships to high school and college students.

Lane said that while they enjoyed the building, she knew it was a “starter space” and that they would eventually want to move to another venue. With the bike shop doing well during the pandemic, she said, it was able to take over the Warming House’s portion of the lease and building utilities.

She said they’re in the initial stages of looking for a new space for the Warming House. They’re open to looking outside of South Minneapolis, but Lane said it’d make sense to stay in the area, given that she, Neis and Louis all live in the neighborhood.

Programming at the new space will be similar, Lane said, noting that they want a venue with room for up to 100 patrons. They aim to keep the space a listening room and not a club or a restaurant, and they want to maintain elements such as a green room, bathroom and backstage area.

They’re gathering community input for the new space via community Zoom meetings this summer and fall. Meanwhile, they’re holding virtual song-and-conversation sessions and community events each week, and they’re also partnering with the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District to hold virtual street shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Warming House
4001 Bryant Ave. S.