The Lowry Cafe looks to a new future with new owners
By Cirien Saadeh | Staff Reporter
After six years years, The Lowry Cafe has come under new ownership. The Cafe — which is located at the intersection of Lowry and Penn Ave. N — is now owned by investor James O’Neill and his business partners, but you might not even know it.
O’Neill declined to share the names of his business partners, and paperwork with the City of Minneapolis and the Secretary of State’s business office still show the Cafe registered to the former owner Darryl Weivoda. Neither O’Neill nor Weivoda could be reached to confirm these details. We will update this story once we have the names of the other new Lowry Cafe owners.
O’Neill and his team finalized their purchase of the Cafe on September 5. The former owner, Weivoda, owned the cafe for six years.
"I think I gave it my best shot. I just didn't want to do it anymore,” said Weivoda.
The new owners don’t plan on changing much — right away — though they have already stopped selling alcoholic beverages.
O’Neill also says they will be extending their hours, likely sometime in the next 45 days, making them one of the few Northside restaurants with plans for dinner service. And they plan on phasing in some more global food options and testing community reactions to the food.
For O’Neill, success means a 30% increase in gross revenue by next year. He says this will be done without increasing prices or reducing food quality. His hope is that this happens through the extended hours and through more extensive marketing.
Still, O’Neill is concerned about what he calls “the elephant in the room: violence at night.”
O’Neill—an investment banker with an office in Cairo, Egypt—is the minority owner in the business, but he is excited about the Lowry Cafe and its future.
“It’s a cafe that can be anything. It has a welcoming atmosphere. All the patrons come from different walks of life. It has high-quality food and reasonable prices,” said O’Neill, “I want to see this community have something nice and make it even better.”
The sale of the Lowry Cafe was a surprise to many regular Lowry Cafe patrons, but General Manager Taya Kaufenberg says Cafe customers shouldn’t worry.
“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be refreshing. It feels nice to do this. The Northside deserves the attention,” says Kaufenberg who has managed the restaurant for the last two years. Many of the patrons surprised at the sale also assumed that Kaufenberg was the new owner and some were even concerned that the restaurant would lose its way, but Kaufenberg was quick to reassure.
“I have a vested interest in this community and the people who come in here. I know 99% of the people here and if I don’t know you, I try and get to know you, “ said Kaufenberg, “[Our staff] don’t need to own the place to have ownership and give our all.”
According to O’Neill, he and his partners have plans to purchase other restaurants in the Twin Cities and had considered the vacated former location of Victory 44, which shut down this past summer.