Purple Onion opening delayed, for now

Structural damages have led to the delay of the caf

Vincent Staupe

Purple Onion Café fans awaiting their first cup of coffee from the store’s new location need to wait a bit longer.

Rumors circulating around campus that the café will reopen at its new location today are false, according to owner Pat Weinberg.

The Purple Onion, a Dinkytown staple, will probably open later in the week in the 1301 University apartment complex, he said. The building sustained structural damage during exhaust repairs, causing the delay.

“It’s been really frustrating and a financial bummer,” Weinberg said.

For the past 13 years, the café was located on the corner of 14th Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street Southeast.

But negotiations with the building owners, Kraus-Anderson Realty Company, broke down in 2003, Weinberg said, and he chose to re-open in the vacant retail space a block away.

Construction began in July and there have been numerous delays since, Weinberg said

“I can only blame myself,” he said. “We’ve had some problems.”

Students generally said they were excited to see the Purple Onion open again.

Physics and math senior Libby Barnes said the coffee shop used to be her only destination for studying in Dinkytown.

“I liked the big tables, which most coffee shops didn’t have,” Barnes said. “Which is why everyone would study there.”

The ambience of the café also appealed to her.

“It had more of a community feel, like you’re studying with your peers,” she said.

Residents of 1301 University also looked forward to the café opening below their apartments.

Lauren Belinkoff, an occupational therapy and Spanish senior, said the reopening of the Purple Onion was long-anticipated and will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

“I think it will be a nice place for students in the apartment and surrounding neighborhoods to congregate while enjoying a cup of joe,” Belinkoff said.

John Bilski, manager of the 1301 University apartments, said the new business shouldn’t be an issue for residents.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time,” he said. “We’re going to need to keep the property clean, but I think it’s something we can handle.”

Bilski acknowledged construction noise during the renovation of the space might have rattled some residents. He said he’s “glad it’s in the past.”

“It’s important to us that it is a space to be enjoyed by our students that increases the quality of their life,” Bilski said. “We want the Purple Onion to succeed.”

Weinberg said the café would first open with the usual fare of coffee, espresso and pastries, which were found at the old location.

But early next year he will begin offering a selection of lunch items, including a possible taco bar.

“Before, we only catered to a certain type of student,” Weinberg said. “I hope now that the Purple Onion will become a destination place.”

The new coffee shop, with its chic floors and antique light fixtures, hardly resembles the old café on Fourth Avenue.

And one student who observed Purple Onion’s construction over the summer said it will be interesting to see what the future brings for the new café.

“I think that it’s going to be definitely different,” Barnes said.