Located on the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Boulevard, campy (borderline blasphemous) bar Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium…Come On In, Precious! — or “Church” — reopens after an extensive four-month renovation tripled its space and the kitsch.
Owner Grant Henry (aka Sister Louisa) purchased neighboring Edgewood Corner Tavern from Mike and Melanie Rabb in April and set to work knocking down walls between the bar and the pub. With a fresh coat of paint, red choir robes lining the windows, and bright yellow double doors beckoning from Edgewood, Church now features three bars, six televisions, a stage for church organ karaoke and comedy nights, a large patio with plenty of seating, and a much-needed additional revenue source from the new kitchen.
In a time when so many restaurants and bars are struggling to remain open, Henry’s expansion may seem overly ambitious — perhaps even a little foolish. “I’m a loss expert and fully realize I could lose everything by trying to triple my space for parishioners post-Covid. If I lost Church and all of the other foolishness listed above, it would be losing everything. Losing it all, plus losing the Corner Tavern, is still losing it all.”
Henry never considered expanding Church until the Rabbs approached him this spring to take over Corner Tavern. The opportunity, he admits, was too good to pass up, even in the midst of a pandemic.
“I always knew we needed a bar upstairs and we needed a kitchen, and when Corner Tavern asked if I would be interested, I said ‘sign me up,’” says Henry. “When any parishioner [bar patron] walks into Church they are going to see nothing different. You have to wander around to find the hidden entrances to the new spaces. It’s not going to be obvious, except more space, bars, bathrooms, and patio area.”
During the health crisis, people enter the building via the sunny yellow door off the back patio. Patrons of the bar are required to wear masks when not seated, and capacity is limited. Henry added air purifiers and fans upstairs in the living room to keep the area properly ventilated. The three bars remain closed for seating and are only available for ordering drinks.
Perhaps the most noticeable transformation to the bar is the addition of food, something Henry calls a “game changer” for Church. The menu, which is currently limited, will eventually include entrees, salads, vegan and keto options, the bar’s “God dogs”, drunk-friendly bar bites, and fellowship hall casseroles on Sundays. For now, people order at a walk-up window and can get their food to-go or for dine-in at a table or on the patio.
Henry promises to continue hosting ping pong tournaments and the bar’s popular church organ karaoke nights, “Holy Shit! Comedy” evenings, and “Amen! Drag” shows when it’s safe to finally do so again.
“I love that Church is a gathering place for all ages and [all] kinds of people, a spot that makes people simultaneously think, giggle, and sometimes throw up. Church is family. Church is performance art in action. It’s an art gallery that sells alcohol. It’s not all about the booze, but it is all about the love.”
Open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Capacity limited. Masks required. Takeout available.