Modern Times Cafe to bring affordable diner fare to Central neighborhood

Categories: Coming Soon

moderntimes.jpg
Photo courtesy of Modern Times' Facebook page
Many in Minneapolis's Central neighborhood have been pleased and curious to see a familiar sight back up in the area. The old "MODERN" sign that has adorned a building at the corner of Chicago and 32nd off and on since the 1940s when the building was occupied by Modern Cleaners has returned, this time to welcome a cafe and restaurant with an old name but a new concept.

The Modern Times Cafe, named after the restaurant of the same name opened in the late 1970s by Southside Pride owner Eddie Felien, has kept the moniker inspired by that eye-catching art deco sign. But the concept has evolved slightly for the space, which under Felien's guidance functioned as a performance space/coffee shop meets New York-style delicatessen and has housed a number of restaurants since the original closed in the 1980s.

Opening the cafe are friends Dylan Alverson, Darah Lundberg and Emily Temte, who sought to open a restaurant that reflected their own personalities in the neighborhood where they live.

"Finding this space was totally serendipitous," explains Alverson, who came across the "For Lease" sign posted at the old Modern Times Cafe on his way to go sledding with his kids in Powderhorn Park. "We signed the lease within three hours." The trio has since been working toward opening what they envision to be a breakfast and lunch neighborhood cafe meets "hippy coffee shop," featuring working class diner fare with a good mix of vegetarian/vegan and local meats. The plan, according to Alverson, is to "make good, affordable food that is available to everyone in the neighborhood, and made from scratch, as organic and local as possible while keeping it affordable."

When asked about that "MODERN" sign, Alverson said they found it in the basement. "It was such an impressive sign, even laying down," and so they had to use it. Alverson reports the neighborhood seems happy it's being used again, though a challenge has been to decide how to use the sign without being too close to Felien's 1979 concept for the space.

Shooting for a mid-April opening, the Modern Times Cafe will be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 to 5 weekends. It will offer French press coffee and espresso as well as food. The cafe also plans to host art shows and monthly art fairs, and its decor features hand-painted tables and a bar showcasing the talents of local artist friends.

Alverson says the cafe is not looking to be known as a chef-run restaurant. "We're trying not to have that kind of hierarchy in the kitchen." While the cafe will offer table service, tips will be shared among all in front and back of house. Although the cafe is not technically a collective, the owners come from a collective restaurant background and clearly bring those philosophies with them.

Modern Times Cafe
3200 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis
612.886.3882

4/13/11 Update: Modern Times is closed on Mondays.


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9 comments
Emily Temte
Emily Temte

My name is Emily Temte and I am one of the three owners of Modern Times. The other two owners are Darah Lundberg & Dylan Alverson. It is unfortunate to hear of your recent experience at our cafe. We have had our doors open all day most days for the last two months while we have been working to get our cafe ready. In that time we have had many folks stop in to look around, check out our space, and say hello. They were all welcome. I find it difficult to believe that any one of us would have treated you in such a manner. We have had a lot of help from friends and family and I would hope that their reasons for not opening the door to hear you out were weighed by more than proper business moves. If it was one of us...I will swear by it that 15 hour days for two months straight can make the best of us slip and slide. In either case, please accept our apologies. I hope you do come to visit us soon, because we are open and we are awesome!

Powderhorn Peruser
Powderhorn Peruser

I was biking by yesterday and noticed the paper gone from the window, signaling that the Modern Times would be opening soon. It was after their posted hours, but I noticed people (I assume the owners or workers) inside talking. I knocked on the window to ask when the cafe would be opening. The people inside refused to open the door, telling me to go away. I repeatedly, and politely, asked when it was opening (from the outside), and they basically ignored me.

I don't have a threatening appearance or anything and was very disappointed the people inside didn't at least come outside to let me know when it was opening so I could give them business.

Not great customer service, not a great way to start out a business. It's not like there's a dearth of cafes/coffee shops in this area - the Mayday and the South City Cafe are both nearby and have very pleasant staff.

The people who run/work at Modern Times Cafe seem to have a long way to go before they establish themselves as a friendly neighborhood spot in South Minneapolis.

Powderhorn Peruser
Powderhorn Peruser

Thank you for your comments Emily. It may be difficult to believe, but it did happen around 6:30 pm Sunday. Again, I am truly looking forward to visiting the cafe soon. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Emily Temte
Emily Temte

My name is Emily Temte and I am one of the three owners of Modern Times. The other two owners are Darah Lundberg & Dylan Alverson. It is unfortunate to hear of your recent experience at our cafe. We have had our doors open all day most days for the last two months while we have been working to get our cafe ready. In that time we have had many folks stop in to look around, check out our space, and say hello. They were all welcome. I find it difficult to believe that any one of us would have treated you in such a manner. We have had a lot of help from friends and family and I would hope that their reasons for not opening the door to hear you out were weighed by more than proper business moves. If it was one of us...I will swear by it that 15 hour days for two months straight can make the best of us slip and slide. In either case, please accept our apologies. I hope you do come to visit us soon, because we are open and we are awesome!

ali
ali

If the place isn't open, it aint open! Maybe they didn't want to give this person the wrong impression by opening the doors when the business is closed for the day. Clearly the person who wrote this has never worked in a restaurant or store for that matter. I happen to know the people who are opening this place and they are extremely community oriented and friendly. How about not saying unkind words about folks you have never met?

Powderhorn Peruser
Powderhorn Peruser

I would've liked to have met them, but they didn't give allow me the pleasure!

I have worked in the food industry amongst others (thank you for saying those judgmental words about me when you have never met or seen me - way to practice what you preach!), and I went through the "trouble" of opening the door for 10 seconds to tell people the establishment I worked at was closed if they knocked and I mouthed "closed" and they didn't leave . But hey, maybe I'm old fashioned?

I can understand you are defensive because the people are your friends. That doesn't mean that what they did was a good business move. The vast majority of restaurants, cafes, etc. that I know of would at least open the door to tell me in person they were closed, during which I would've been able to ask my question.

I look forward to visiting the place in the near future, it just was not a positive first impression is all.

Ordoesitexplode
Ordoesitexplode

You seem like a creep powderhorn peruser. Do you also try to go into construction sites and try to talk to the workers? People like you remind me that I should keep my door locked at all times.

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