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Modern Times Cafe Covid-19 Fund

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Nine years ago, while taking my daughter sledding, I happened to see a For Rent sign in the window of a neon green art deco building.  Within 5 hours we had signed a 3 year lease for what is now Modern Times. In the decade since, I hadn’t imagined a time I would be asking our community for help.   

I started Modern Times with the money I made selling a bike shop I owned and operated outside of Olympia, Washington; I profited $30,000.  With that money we remodeled the space; bought used equipment from all over Minnesota; asked friends to build booths and paint; and made the space usable.  The week before we opened I borrowed $4,000 to buy food. We worked with our community to open this restaurant. Our only desire was for customers to keep coming back to eat, snack, be with each other, and drink coffee.  

I consider myself a soft-capitalist: I am so grateful for every customer who has made the choice to eat at Modern Times or buy merchandise; you’ve kept our doors open.  I feel immense luck for that walk with my daughter 9 years ago. That chance sighting led to signing a lease and a decade of work. From day one we have been busy enough to pay ourselves and our employees.  Beyond that, this past year I had the privilege of buying the building through a Deed to Trust. We have worked hard throughout these years to make Modern Times a place that is unique: offering a hippie/freak/pedestrian diner vibe whilst serving organic and local products, prioritizing food made for a variety of dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian, carnivore).  I strive earnestly to offer a dining experience that is disappearing as our city changes.  

This was all before COVID-19.  Last night, March 15th, we learned of several positive virus carriers in our neighborhood; both cases working within the retail or service industry.  With this information we made the fretful decision to close. This highly contagious virus is already in our community and I could no longer, in good conscious, ensure we could keep our staff and customers safe.  This morning we handed out our perishable foods to our staff and neighborhood. I will continue to do this as long as possible and/or necessary.  

Today I learned that Modern Times’ insurance will not cover any closure costs or lost wages due to COVOID-19.  Our 19 employees will be filing for unemployment; a decision I encouraged, but know will not be enough for most to survive on.  Because of this, I am asking our community for help. Any donation will go towards supporting our staff (i.e. continue payroll while we are closed) during this catastrophe, utilities, and the cost of building our food supply upon re-opening.  I am in urgent need of your help to support my staff and to ensure that Modern Times can live through this disaster.  I recognize our entire community is facing similar problems and I do not intend to impart further hardships on anyone. Please donate within your means. The world is ravaged by COVOID-19 and the harmful effects of this virus impacts us all.  

I am asking for any financial help you have to offer.  The continuation of this business falls in the hands of our community; just as it did when we opened.  I am overwhelmed with joy for all that I have offered the community thus far and am feeling deeply helpless and vulnerable amidst turning away all 19 of our employees this morning.  

Thank you for your continued support and contribution.  I hope to have the privilege of serving you again in the future.   


Dylan Alverson 

Owner and Chef 

Modern Times Cafe 

Minneapolis, MN


Dylan Alverson
Minneapolis, MN

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