After closing its doors last week when a driver crashed into its outer wall, Hard Times Café will reopen Thursday, debuting some small renovations.
Co-owner Julia Merle-Smith said the cooperative used the time off over the past week to clean and give the restaurant a small makeover.
Employees sanded and refinished tables and chairs, repainted bathrooms and replaced some flooring.
Closed doors are a rarity at Hard Times, which stays open 22 hours a day and closes only two days of the year for cleaning and repairs, Merle-Smith said. Doing all the repairs at once makes the café look almost new again, Merle-Smith said.
A car rammed into the side of the building April 3, shoving the restaurant’s dishwasher and plumbing off the wall by nearly 6 inches.
Without a way to clean their dishes, workers simply threw in the towel and closed the shop a half-hour after the crash.
The restaurant and the driver’s insurance will be paying for the damage.
Philip Klobuchar, another co-owner and a junior at the University of Minnesota, said the community’s response to the closing has been a surprise.
“It’s actually been really funny,” Klobuchar said. “[It’s] shocking to [see] how it’s kind of a big deal with everyone.”
While biking around campus, Klobuchar said a number of customers have stopped to flag him down for an update and that the café’s phone rings every 20 minutes with inquiries.
Those who ventured to the café itself saw promising signs: “See you Thursday,” they read.
Harmony Kennis of Rochester, Minn., said she first thought the blunt note on the door about someone crashing into the restaurant was a joke.
Kennis, 17, said she had never been to the café but had always wanted to try the restaurant since she’s on campus every couple of weeks.
“I wanted to go to another place that’s more vegan friendly,” said Kennis, who’s been a vegan for three years. Hard Times is known for its vegan offerings and punk style.
With the restaurant being one of few places in the area open late, a number of homeless youth and adults often use the space at night.
“For a lot of people this place is a staple, but there’s enough places around here that are welcoming,” Merle-Smith said.
“On Thursday we’ll open, and it will be like nothing happened.”