High Five is a new beginning in former Primetime space

From left are High Five co-owner Chad True, co-owner Patrick Mooney, manager Dave Sperling and co-owner Brett Anderson. Photo by John Gessner

Live-music venue under new

A foursome of regulars at the old Primetime Sports Bar and Grill in Burnsville liked it so much they – you guessed it – bought the place.

Primetime closed a year ago this month, ending a run of more than six years as a live-music venue with a spacious stage and dance floor and its share of police calls.

The bar, located in the Burnhill Plaza strip mall north of County Road 42 and east of Irving Avenue, remained closed until mid-September, when the new owners unveiled High Five Bar and Grill.

They say they want to attract a more mixed-age crowd than Primetime pulled in and repair the spotty reputation some people still have of the place.

“So far, we’ve had very good luck with everybody,” said co-owner Chad True, 42, of Burnsville. “The crowds we’re looking for are those we set out to get. We just need more of them.”

They’ve added country bands to the mix and recently opened for lunch in an effort to broaden High Five’s appeal.

True’s partners – childhood friends who graduated together from Apple Valley High School – are Rob Trewick of Farmington, Patrick Mooney of Apple Valley and Brett Anderson of Prior Lake.

Before buying the bar, they’d meet there and sometimes talk about how they’d run the place if they were in charge.

“Me and the other three owners – I’m 50 percent and the other three make up the other 50 percent – we were regulars here for happy hour. … We never saw the kind of shenanigans going on at night. We loved the place,” True said.

To manage High Five the partners hired 26-year-old Dave Sperling of Burnsville, who had worked at Primetime since it opened in October 2005 and managed it for the last year and a half.

Sperling said he had hoped to make changes at Primetime and broaden its clientele, but its “stigma” and reputation as a hard-rock bar made that impossible.

“He knows this business,” True said, “and he has contacts with the right groups and promoters. He was the first thing we solidified when we got the OK, that he would manage.”

The establishment – previously owned by Rich Povlitzki, who had a falling-out with the building’s management, True said – is larger than the strip-mall storefront might suggest.

Covering nearly 15,000 square feet, it has a top capacity of 900 for concerts, True said.

“Best sound and lights south of the river, definitely,” True said.

The club sold out for a Jan. 19 appearance by Seattle hard rockers Candlebox. It drew about 700 for a touring Garth Brooks tribute band and about 700 to a mixed martial arts fight, Sperling said.

True said High Five tries to book one country band and one rock band per weekend. Primetime’s all-rock, all-the-time persona – and some of its extreme drink specials – helped cement its reputation, according to True and Sperling.

“I did witness a couple of those evenings,” said True, who has worked in retail management, property management and information technology, and is now a part-time leasing agent and caretaker at the Provence Apartments in Burnsville, where he lives with his wife and their two children. “We didn’t want that kind of thing. I wanted a place where a 35-year-old couple wouldn’t be afraid to come out and enjoy a good country show.”

The new owners have made improvements, including enlarging the dance floor, recarpeting, brightening up the lighting and raising a section of the floor that sports eight pool tables, restaurant seating and arcade games.

“We’ve got an original Frogger over there and a Ms. Pac-Man,” Sperling said. “It’s a retro arcade.”

True readily admits that police were at Primetime “more than they should have been” and that the old reputation is hard to shake.

“That establishment died,” Sperling said. “That era is over. And this is the beginning of something completely new and different.”