The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 4, 2014

What's Up Lounge substituting for Oleander during renovations

Lounge extending hours, maintaining entertainment schedule

Even though the Oleander Saloon will be closed much of this month for extensive renovations, the social and entertainment schedule at 701 N. Riverfront Drive isn't slowing down.

Thanks to an agreement between Oleander Saloon and the What's Up Lounge, which is located on the building's upper floor, the latter is extending its business hours to accommodate the Oleander's down time.

"We used to be open only during our shows," said Eric Moody, a manager at the What's Up Lounge, which operates primarily as a music venue. "But it's been nice to be open during the week."

The Oleander's hours are 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The What's Up Lounge will fill those hours with Oleander employees.

Oleander owner Ian Nelson said the situation hasn't been ideal for employees during the renovation process, which began in mid-March, but said he's done everything to keep people working in the meantime.

"We thought it was important to keep employees with some hours," Nelson said. "It's the best we could do."

Still, Nelson said he's excited to unveil the changes when Goodrich Construction finishes the renovations. To preserve the element of surprise, the windows will be covered in coming days and the plans include updating "everything but the floor."

Even with all the changes, Nelson said the renovations are meant to preserve the Oleander's distinct, old-time saloon atmosphere.

"We'll try not to get away from who we are," he said.

Blue Max on Saturday

As for the What's Up Lounge, Moody said the entertainment schedule will remain as robust as ever.

Tonight's electronic dance music (popularly called EDM) begins at 9 p.m. ($10 cover, all ages) and the hard-rocking blues band Blue Max plays at 8 p.m. on Saturday ($7 cover, ages 21-plus only).

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