Bob Dylan-themed restaurant in Hibbing seeks public support

For 30 years, Zimmy's bar and restaurant in Bob Dylan's old hometown of Hibbing has served as a makeshift museum for fans and an important cultural landmark. Sadly, Zimmy's closed recently, but they have started up an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to help reopen one of the favorite watering holes and restaurants of Dylan fans who make the trek up to his onetime hometown.

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Zimmy's played an integral role in the annual Dylan Days celebration in Hibbing every May 24 to honor Bob's birthday. The photos and artifacts of Dylan on display throughout Zimmy's trace Dylan's early days through his rise to stardom. The understated museum is also a spot to get a good burger and a cold beer -- and maybe, if you're lucky, catch a story or two from someone who knew Robert Zimmerman way back when.

Contributions to the cause are smartly tied in to some of Dylan's best known lyrics, and donations will get you various Dylan/Zimmy's items like rare photographs, Dylan Days pins, T-shirts, an autographed picture of Dylan's former girlfriend, Echo Helstrom (the actual Girl From the North Country), autographed drum sticks from Dylan's onetime bandmember LeRoy Hoikkala, all the way up to a 1940s-era clock from Hibbing's Zimmerman Electric store that has been displayed with the museum exhibit, Bob Dylan's American Dream (which has been to the Weisman here in Minneapolis, as well as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland), as well as the marquee letters from the LYBBA Theatre, named for Bob's great-grandmother, Lybba Edelstein.

Linda Stroback-Hocking, who is the co-owner/manager/collector of Zimmy's Restaurant along with her husband, Bob Hocking, has this to say about their establishment and its long legacy of faithfully serving thousands of Dylanologists while also celebrating the enduring talents of Bob Dylan himself:

"Earlier this year, Zimmy's, like many small businesses in our area, was confronted with an unforeseen tax burden. Because our many attempts to set up a monthly payment plan were denied, we were forced to close on March 6th, 2014. With your help, we can resurrect our restaurant, and continue to serve as a home base for both our many loyal local customers and for those Dylan pilgrims around the world.

We always tried to make our restaurant more than a restaurant. In many ways, we were like a Bob Dylan welcome center. For the thousands of worldwide Dylan fans who came through our doors, we have provided a home base from which to explore the town of Hibbing, including, but not limited to, its Bob Dylan connection. We are rooted in celebrating and preserving the importance of the Iron Range and its influence on Bob's work. Zimmy's was a place where both locals and outsiders felt at home. We succeeded in creating an atmosphere where patrons could comfortably spend hours in conversation. We took pride in our menu, serving "exquisite local cuisine" and creating culinary events for our local patrons like special wine, beer and whiskey food pairing evenings. But, in many ways, our food and drink merely provided the means to keep people fueled for further conversation, camaraderie and connection.

If we are the unofficial Bob Dylan museum of Hibbing, we are a living museum. In an increasingly fragmented society, even in small towns like ours, we need local places to connect, converse, and feel welcome. It could be said of many of our visitors that they came seeking Bob Dylan, but they ended up finding Hibbing. As a visitor in one of our many guest books put it: "So many many memories, and only one place like Zimmy's on Earth. Maybe it's the atmosphere, the people, or a longing for days gone by, but this place feels like home."

In 100 years, people will still be coming to Hibbing because of the Bob Dylan connection--there is no doubting that. The question is: will there be a place like Zimmy's to welcome them? If you love Bob Dylan, Zimmy's or Hibbing, please consider donating to our campaign."

I can't imagine a Hibbing without the good folks who work and gather at Zimmy's, and now is our chance to play a small role in bringing the place back to life. Contributions are only being accepted through September 11, so please donate soon if you can at Zimmy's IndieGoGo page.

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