A group of artists transformed a section of a old, sprawling tin can factory into a bustling mini golf and craft cocktail emporium, drawing families during the day and bar-goers at night. It’s a community-minded enterprise that’s bringing in customers of all ages.  

Can Can Wonderland, which debuted in January in St. Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone (a neighborhood that’s made a commitment to nurturing artist-run endeavors), leases 19,000 square feet. In its first three months of operation, Can Can Wonderland drew in 54,000 visitors interested in an artist-designed mini golf course; a cocktail program crafted by a Milwaukee-based artisanal bitters company; old-fashioned soda fountain drinks, as well as boozy milkshakes; and a menu of fancy carnival food, including hot dogs (with vegan versions), grilled-cheese sandwich riffs and soft pretzels. There’s also the “Boardwalk of Amusements” with dozens of vintage arcade games and two stages that host variety shows, musicians and children’s activities. The polka ensemble from beloved (and recently shuttered) Minneapolis institution Nye’s Polonaise Room is now Can Can’s house band. 

The per-person average spend is $20, and what’s more, 55% of customers have returned for another round, driven by the engaging atmosphere, packed events calendar and craveable menu, according to Jennifer Pennington, Can Can’s “CEO, firecracker and ringleader.”

The space is large, but money is coming in through multiple channels: It’s $12 for a round of golf ($9 for kids), and menu items range from $6 for a cheese toastie to $12 for the Cruise Ship, a large serving of mini doughnuts with cotton candy and a choice of topping.

“There’s a lot of different revenue streams. You pay for mini golf. You pay for food. You pay for drinks,” says Pennington. “There just isn’t a community gathering place like this in the city … We want to make it fun for everyone.”

More on Can Can Wonderland

  • Families with children are welcome at Can Can Wonderland until 9 p.m., after which it only admits guests 21 and older.
  • Local artists display works and perform in the space to add to the local feel.