After facing public accusations of anti-Semitism, the owner of a new bar that bills itself as gay-friendly is now battling eviction.
And the bar hasn’t even opened.
The owners of the building at 1933 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis, the space formerly occupied by Rudolph’s Bar-B-Que, are seeking to evict Cheers over two months in unpaid rent and fees totaling $21,625, according to court documents.
Cheers owner Emad Abed said Wednesday he would not comment at this time on the court filings.
Earlier this month, a number of online critics, including the mayor of Minneapolis, criticized Abed and the bar after allegations that Abed posted statements on his Facebook page attacking Israel and Jewish people.
“Did you know Israel and it’s [sic] people must be eliminated from existence?” said one post, which went on to compare Israelis to “cancer.”
Abed denies he wrote the posts, saying they were fabricated by his critics.
“I told them a million times on that thread that I’m not anti-Semitic,” he said in an interview in early June. “My best friends are Jewish. I love them, they love me.”
The controversy began when a representative for the bar started a GoFundMe page asking for $1.5 million in donations to help open a new bar for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Former journalist Andy Birkey, curious about why a bar would be seeking public donations, said he found the posts on Abed’s Facebook page after some online sleuthing. He posted screenshots online that quickly spread, prompting some to call for a boycott of the bar.
More than 400 people have responded to an event notice on Facebook to say they plan to attend “Queers Against Cheers,” a protest of the grand opening, scheduled to align with this weekend’s Twin Cities Pride festivities.
“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came,” wrote Mayor Jacob Frey, who is Jewish, on Twitter on June 4. “While you’ll find this welcoming attitude at LGBTQ bars across MPLS, you won’t find it at Cheers. I’ll be sure to patron[ize] the welcoming ones. L’chaim! (Not Cheers).”
The court documents, filed June 12 in Hennepin County District Court, say Cheers failed to pay rent in May and June.
The building’s owner, 1933 Lyndale LLC, did not reply to requests for comment.
Star Tribune staff writer Miguel Otárola contributed to this report. Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036