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St. Paul’s Eclectic Black Dog Cafe Just Closed After 23 Years

The trendsetting, catch-all cafe in Lowertown will reopen for one last night of service on Saturday, January 15

A plate of eggs Benedict at Black Dog Cafe.
Benedicts were big at Black Dog Cafe.
Black Dog Cafe/Facebook

Black Dog Cafe, Lowertown’s go-to gathering spot since 1998, has closed its doors for good.

The pioneering St. Paul coffee shop evolved over the years into a popular all-day venue with cocktails, beer, and wine. The versatile, industrial-styled space functioned as a dinner destination, casual lunch spot, art gallery, and music venue all in one. Live jazz was a big draw, especially on Saturday nights.

A sign posted on the door over the weekend spelled out its sudden closure: “We are grateful for each and everyone of you that has walked through these doors. We have loved you as best we could.” Its Facebook followers responded to the news of 2022’s first big Twin Cities closure with over 200 sad and shocked messages.

The funky, family-owned fixture in the Northern Warehouse Artists Cooperative, founded by Sara and siblings Andy and Stacy Remke, expanded next door in 2016 to make room for sit-down service, a full bar, and kitchen led by its first-ever chef.

Black Dog’s menu went heavy on eggs, with daily breakfast until 2 p.m. and weekend brunch Benedicts with 2-for-1 mimosas. Lunch and dinner included an array of sandwiches, pizzas, and sharable global plates, plus weekly specials like fried fish Fridays and taco Tuesdays.

Co-owner Sara Remke told Pioneer Press the closure was caused by “a confluence of things, but COVID played a big part in it.” Leading up to the pandemic in 2019, Black Dog had its most successful year yet, she adds. The cafe pivoted to takeout during the public health crisis before welcoming back diners last year.

When Black Dog first opened, its sleepy St. Paul neighborhood was largely comprised of edgy historic buildings that spoke to creatives. Lowertown has since blossomed into a vibrant dining corridor lined with new condos, CHS Field, a light rail, and as a result, fewer parking spaces.

Black Dog’s last act is scheduled for Saturday, January 15, when the cafe will host a final night of service set to live music to let longtime fans and regulars say goodbye.