Patrons return as Hard Times Cafe reopens for business

by Abdel Shakur

Sipping a cup of coffee, longtime Minneapolis resident Joseph Finkel said he was glad the Hard Times cafe has been reopened.

“I call it my bar,” he said. “It’s a place where everybody who wants to feel comfortable feels comfortable here.”

Finkel said the atmosphere inside the cafe is “bohemian” and thinks it is one of the few nice places young people can hang out.

“I had a friend tell me once, `(Hard Times) is where people go to look for their runaway children,’ and I said, `Well, that’s a positive. At least they know where to look.'”

The city took action against Hard Times amid allegations the cafe contributed to the crime problem in the area. It was closed after two people were arrested for marijuana possession in the cafe.

“I think it’s a kind of uniting force in the community,” said Zoe Corneli, a University PSEO student.

“Its a place where people can come and interact and be friendly with each other,” she said.

Corneli, who has been going to Hard Times since she was 11, said Hard Times’ diverse clientele contributes to community building.

“You can come in and start a conversation with someone you don’t know,” she said. “That definitely helps to develop a sense of community.”

Solomon Cherne, co-owner of World Beat video, said diversity of patrons at the cafe reflects the composition of the Cedar-Riverside community as a whole.

Cherne said he’s unsure whether or not the charges against the cafe are well-founded, but said the cafe might be a victim of misperception.

“I think the environment there is very welcoming,” Cherne said. “People get the wrong impression, but in reality most of the people who go there are good people.”

Laura Reese, a University senior, said Hard Times’ late hours and friendly atmosphere make her a regular at the cafe.

“Its very necessary to have a place where people can go,” she said. “Contrary to what some people think, I’ve always felt safe there.”

Reese said one of the reasons she likes the West Bank neighborhood and Hard Times is the feeling that people are willing to help each other out.

“I feel like Hard Times contributes to the overall feel of the West Bank in a really positive way,” said Reese.


Abdel Shakur welcomes comments at [email protected]