Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Anyone Want To Buy A Historically Significant Restaurant? Zimmy's Is For Sale

As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden
The wounded flowers were dangling from the vines
I was passing by yon cool and crystal fountain
Someone hit me from behind
~ Bob Dylan, Ain’t Talkin’

That's how it hit me. A rubber truncheon. Point blank, base of the skull. The news that hit me in this unexpected manner was the recent closing of Zimmy's Bar & Restaurant in Hibbing.

Ain't Talkin' is a favorite of mine. As with so many other Dylan songs there's a direct connection vibrating through the lines capturing something real and when you live that something the words burst to life and you know you're not the only one to have felt it.

For year's I'd heard about Zimmy's and finally made it… What a treasure. Owners Linda and Bob Hocking transformed the space into a wonderful Dylan tribute in the heart of Hibbing. Dylan fans from all of the world have been making a trek to Dylan's home town. The house he grew up still stands. The high school stage he performed on resonates with vibes from the era. And Zimmy's seemed to define itself by maintaining the legacy.

The art and the vibe were what struck me the first time we ate there. (OK, the food was good, too.) It became my inward aim to have one of my own Dylan paintings hanging on the walls there with all the other work.

Ironically I finally had a chance to meet Bob & Linda Hocking at a private party this past winter, an acquaintance I welcomed. Good people. Very special people. I began looking forward to this year's Dylan Days more than ever, hoping to contribute a piece to the art event they do each year. Then the news came down. The brightness that Zimmy's gave the world was snuffed. "Every nook and cranny has its tears."

But there's still something worth talking about. Zimmy's is for sale, and not only can but should be preserved.

Here's something to consider. When my family moved to New Jersey in 1964 they bought a house for $24,000. Four bedrooms, partial basement split level. By the 21st century the value of this piece of real estate, on 3/4's of an acre, reached $450 K.

Now get this, for only $475 K you can own this historic dream. I do not know if the art goes with it, but the art is worth half that and more. (I am biased. This could be be hyperbole.) What would you rather own, a house in New Jersey with no revenue stream and lots of taxes, or a historical restaurant which has visitors from all over the world? Having lived in that house in Jersey, I would much rather have Zimmy's.

Across the street: The Androy Hotel
The building itself is historically significant. A sign out front tells this abbreviated version of its story:

“Mesaba Street Railway Power Plant and Waiting Station, 531 Howard Street. During the heyday of mining on the Mesabi Iron Range electric cars rumbled down Howard Street every 15 minutes, picking up passengers from all across the Range who came to shop Minnesota’s new commercial district.

“The Mesabi Interurban Railway Company ran trollies between Gilbert and Hibbing commencing on Christmas Eve 1912. When North Hibbing moved south, one of the most significant events was the rerouting of the Streetcar down the newly built Howard Street business district. Constructed in 1921 by the Oliver Iron Mining Company for the Mesaba Railway Company, this building served as the power plant and western terminus for the 41 mile electric rail line. Passengers purchased their tickets at the ticket office; women and children waited in the “Women’s Comfort Room”; and men socialized in the “Men’s Smoking Room.” Two tracks, large steel doors, and a 49 foot long repair pit accommodated streetcars tied up in the carhouse for the night.

“At the demise of the Railway Company, the building became home to Furlong Oil Co., Shell Tire, and eventually Mancuso Oil.

“In 1983, it was remodeled into the Atrium Restaurant, and its historical architecture was kept intact. In 1990, the Zimmy’s Restaurant was added to compliment the Atrium and to pay tribute to Hibbing’s own music icon/poet laureate, “Bob” Dylan (Robert Zimmerman). As a result of this, Zimmy’s is not only a fine eating establishment, but a restaurant that exhibits “Bob” Dylan memorabilia, and gives customers/Dylan fans, alike, a sense of his influence on this Music industry, as well as, our American culture.

“A project by Hibbing Kiwanis, Iron Range Research Center (IRRRB), Hibbing-Chisholm Rotary, and Central Business Commission.”

Not far away is the house on Howard Street where young Bob grew up, carving his initials into the wall next to the phone. Makes me wonder what evidence of my youth was left in my house inBridgewater.

As for the bygone times of Hibbing in general and Zimmy's in particular, much more could be said, as the town and the building have a well documented history. If you're seriously interested in scoping out more info on this deal contact Larry Furlong at Village Realty. I for one will be glad you did. As long as you keep the name.

Meantime....  life goes on all around you. Embrace it.

EdNote: The painting Don't Look Back pictured above is one of my own and was not featured at Zimmy's. It was only my dream to have it there one day. 

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