The first big restaurant closure of 2022 is here, and it’s a heart-wrencher: After more than 20 years in Lowertown, Black Dog Cafe is closing. A sign posted on the cafe’s door, and later shared on Facebook, has the news.
“We are grateful for each and every one of you that has walked through these doors,” their farewell note reads. “We have loved you as best we could.”
Siblings Sara, Andy, and Stacy Remke opened Black Dog Cafe in 1998, when there was little going on by way of food or live music in Lowertown. Their cafe eventually offered both, becoming a hub for musicians and artists and neighborhood folks who were hungry for a pizza and a pint.
But Lowertown is a different place now than it was in the late ’90s, and though the little cafe and jazz club made it through the pandemic restaurant shutdown and eventually reopened for in-person dining, the stress and uncertainty must have proven to be too much.
The fond remembrances and farewells have been pouring in since the news hit social media, with hundreds and hundreds of commenters saying their goodbyes on the cafe’s page as well as owner Sara Remke’s personal page. “Thank you for sharing these last 18 years with me. You gave me my first solo art show and I will never forget that gift,” writes Amy Clark.
According to Kimberly Nightingale, “Saint Paul is losing its heart, the Black Dog Cafe. You supported art, music, poetry—so much of what makes a city the best that it can be. You were it.”
“Just when you think the past year couldn’t get any harder—this,” Lynda Merry adds. “I know I’ve told you many times that we moved where we are because we loved Black Dog. I can’t imagine this neighborhood without you.”
Of course, Black Dog wouldn’t leave their community without saying their farewells, so Remke is encouraging folks to stop by “for a dram or a drink and a goodbye” over the next few weeks. The cafe’s last day will be January 15.