Gathering Grounds goes 'underground' in remodel; lounge opens downstairs

The Underground Lounge downstairs at Perham's Gathering Grounds recently opened to serve wine, beer and appetizers.

Gathering Grounds' downstairs looks a little different than it did at the beginning of 2023.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

PERHAM — The downstairs at Perham's Gathering Grounds is no longer just an ordinary lower level. As of this spring, it was officially remodeled into the Underground Lounge, complete with its own bar and rustic yet warm seating. Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 4-9 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. in the summer, the lounge serves its own special menu of wine, cocktails, beer and appetizers. Once the cafe got its wine and beer license in 2021, the idea to remodel began swimming around in owner Ashlea Clifton's mind.

"We just thought it was a super fun idea to turn (downstairs) into some kind of bar, something a little different," she said. "We thought, 'Why not? Let's go for it.' So, we just made some modifications downstairs."

The Underground Lounge serves wine, beer and appetizers on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9 p.m.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Remodeling began in late January and finished around March, and now the downstairs has a totally new look for lounging, eating and drinking. The old "bargain" area was turned into a sleek black shelving space for glasses and drinks. Some of the lighting was changed to enhance the warm and rustic energy, bringing out the browns and reds of the dark wood furniture and antique brick flooring and walls.

"When I bought the shop, I was just really intrigued by (the building)," Clifton said, explaining the inspiration behind this rustic design. "I found out pretty quickly that it had been a bar at one point … I'm kind of a beer nerd. I worked in a brewery in San Diego for ten years and got to learn a lot about that and the history. One of the spaces downstairs — it's this little room — actually used to be the cellar … I love that we have a room that happened to be a beer room. We call it the 'brew room,' which we actually turned into a bit of a 'man cave.' We've typically been a very lady-friendly place, which I absolutely love, but we're trying to let the guys know that they're also welcome here."

The "man cave" sits in its own little nook, complete with a cozy couch, deer tapestry and antique photographs donated by community members. With these changes, the Underground Lounge was complete. It opened to the public on March 8, and business has been pretty steady despite that first month being hit with snowstorm after snowstorm.


Rustic furniture decorating the Underground Lounge gives the space a rustic and warm feel.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Though those eating at the Gathering Grounds cafe can go downstairs to check out the new space whenever, the evening times will be when the Underground Lounge itself is open to serve from its menu of cocktails, beer and charcuterie boards that include Minnesota-made cheeses, quesadillas, sweets and more. The smoothies, coffee and other drinks served at the cafe will also be available in the lounge at night.

"We're all very excited," Clifton said.

On Thursday, May 18, the Underground Lounge and Comet Theater are partnering to offer Guardians of the Date Night, which allows a pair of people to get two drinks and an appetizer from the lounge, and two tickets to the theater. For more information about the Underground Lounge and other upcoming events/partnerships, visit , their Instagram @gatherinperham or the shop's Facebook page . They can be reached at 218-346-7969.

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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