The local hip-hop community is grieving over the recent announcement that the Dinkytowner Café will close on Sunday, May 31. After much speculation in the preceding weeks about the future of the club, which has become something of a home base for the grassroots hip-hop community in the Twin Cities, co-owners Kyle McCarty and Brian Elias sat down with City Pages to discuss the fate of the music venue and restaurant.
McCarty calls the events leading up to the bar's closing "a perfect storm" of a situation. "It has to do with a few different entities. It has to do with our past ownership, and it has to do with a bank, the city of Minneapolis, and especially our landlord," he says.
Fresh out of college, McCarty and Elias took over ownership of the Dinkytowner in January 2004, along with McCarty's uncle, who has since given up his co-ownership and left the state. A recent defaulted loan in the uncle's name got the bank sniffing around the Dinkytowner, as it was still listed as one of his assets.
"My uncle's long gone—two years ago, now—but the bank came after us anyway," says McCarty.
"Which put it into a spiral with the landlord and the city," Elias explains.
"A week before it was put into receivership [with the bank], we had a meeting with the city, and they had just done a health inspection," McCarty says. "And they said you have to get these upgrades, which would cost us $50,000 to $80,000."
Because their landlord had transitioned them to a month-to-month lease a few years ago, McCarty and Elias say they were hesitant to invest such a large sum of money into a situation that could easily be pulled out from under their feet. Dinkytowner booking manager Dan Kane, who runs a promotions company called Ten Thousand Breaks, caught wind of the situation and started to get nervous about his job security. Kane bowed out at the beginning of the month, with a show on May 7 marking his last involvement with the club. Recurring Dinkytowner events, like the popular DJ night Last of the Record Buyers, have since been moved to other venues.
But McCarty and Elias say that they plan to keep the bar hopping right up until the end.
"The main reason we're staying open is for the employees," McCarty says. "We care about them. If we just shut down, they'd be screwed along with us, and we know that we can stay open and we can help them out. And obviously we've got a lot of bills that we have to pay, and we're still going to have to pay them after we close, so we want to chop it down as much as possible before we close."
The final show will feature UNICUS, KANSER, MORE THAN LIGHTS, and more on SATURDAY, MAY 30, at the DINKYTOWNER CAFÉ; 612.362.0437