OM closed, owner Vikram Uppal mum on "Shanghaied" NYE party debacle

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In the aftermath of a truly terrible New Year's party, OM is closed.
In the wake of a disastrous New Year's Eve party hosted by Thrifty Hipster's Matthew Dowgwillo, it has become clear that OM -- the party's original venue -- has closed.

Owner Vikram Uppal had been silent as to the status of his restaurant and declined interviews. In an initial email response to questions about the failed "Shanghaied: New Year's Eve 2011" event, he said only, "The current status of OM does not have anything to do with this."

Uppal was a teenage real estate wunderkind, beginning work with his father at Uppal Enterprises at 18. In 2007, when Twin Cities Business magazine named him an "Emerging Leader," he boasted $25 million in real estate developments. The University of St. Thomas grad told the magazine he hoped to inspire others "to be the next Jack Welch, or the next Vik Uppal!"

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Chef Raghavan Iyer during OM's boom times.
In 2008, he jumped into the high-end restaurant game by opening OM on the first floor of the historic 401 First Avenue North building, which he owns. The restaurant specialized in high-end contemporary Indian cuisine crafted by James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author and chef Raghavan Iyer.

Then Uppal's name started popping up in the papers under less auspicious circumstances. In February last year, he told the Star Tribune he was working with lenders to resolve a $13 million debt on one of his apartment complexes.

This summer, Iyer quit his consulting job at OM, incensed that Uppal was ignoring his advice. He says he had to sue Uppal for his remaining wages.

"The main owner has no experience with restaurants. There's a lot of meddling," says Iyer.

In November, word got out that 401 First Avenue North was in foreclosure.

The foreclosure announcement set off rumors that OM was destined to close, and TC Food Finds tweeted they'd be shut by Janurary 1. Uppal denied the rumor.

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Vik Uppal in less contentious times.
December brought word of an epic New Year's Eve bash hosted at the restaurant by local promoter Thrifty Hipster. The invitation for "Shanghaied" promised an extravagant Asian speakeasy theme, with acrobats, go-go dancers, casino-style table games, and Japanese bondage art all going on in unused space within 401 North First Avenue. Tickets ranging from $45-95 were snapped up by 1,000 eager revelers.

Behind the scenes, however, trouble was brewing. The invitation went out long before anyone thought to call the city, according to Minneapolis's licensing manager Grant Wilson. He had to find out about it from a flyer.

"Somebody turned in one of those to us," he says. "We sent them a notice saying, 'You can't have a party in space you don't have permits for.'"


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