Loring Cafe, circa 1998

It’s been a rough day of packing here and I came across this polaroid amidst my stuff. I loved this place. I tried to find some documentation of it online, but it wasn’t readily available and I don’t want to loose my packing momentum spending much more time on it. But it makes sense because the Loring opened, as far as I can remember, in the early 80’s before web sites and digital photographs. And it closed around 2002 when web sites and digital photos were just gaining real momentum.

So how to describe why it was so special? Well, for starters there was how it looked and felt. It was on Loring Park, a small but beautiful park just west of downtown Minneapolis. There is a little lake there and it is quite charming. The Loring’s outdoor seating area faced the park and I spent many, many warm and breezy evenings out there on the flagstone patio amidst the wild greenery and umbrellas. Inside there was a main dining room, a a room with a bar and small stage and a larger room with huge sofas and tables. There where many places to get lost in the Loring. A kind of mezzanine above the lounge room, dark corners, huge potted plants, brick everywhere, high high ceilings. It seemed as if the space had been created and added to naturally over the years; and indeed, it had.

Since the Loring’s passing nothing has quite replaced it. It was really a magnet for people. Each time I went there I saw either people I knew or a community of people whom I had never actually met, but who I always saw around the city. All of those people dispersed, apparently, to multiple locations once there was no more Loring.

The closing of the Loring happened at a time when several other long term restaurants and bars closed in Minneapolis like Nikki’s and The New French Cafe. It seemed to be a shift in the social life of the city. The Loring and Nikki’s both felt like Minneapolis, which is why I liked going to them. Now that they are gone the city feels different.