The Dinkytowner Cafe bids farewell on May 31
Photo by Ben Clark
The Dinkytowner Cafe has announced its last official day of business as Sunday, May 31. After much speculation in the past week about the future of the Dinkytowner, which has become somewhat 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 for an exclusive interview to disclose the full story on 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 back in January of 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.
"The bank took over in early April, and that's about the time it started getting wishy-washy," says McCarty. "We didn't know what was going on. I certainly didn't know what was going on."
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."
"We're trying to support the staff that have been here for the last five years," Elias says. "It's just a bad situation and we did what we could."
"Not to say in the end that we won't open up a new Dinkytowner in a different location," says McCarty.
"We're definitely looking at coming back," Elias agrees. "We don't plan on just letting it go."
As for the future of the Dinkytowner's current space? "The only thing that we know is that [the landlord] is planning on giving it to his kid," says Elias. "That's what he said. There's all this speculation as far as what's going on. We can't tell you for sure."
Those who wish to support the club, which has been in its current location since 2000, should stop in for a drink and one of the venue's legendary greasy breakfasts, and attend the final show on May 30. The show will feature Unicus, who has been a longtime performer at the club, along with Kanser, More Than Lights, The Poetz, 90 Sevan, and host Big Trey. (18+. $5. 9 p.m.)
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.