Cafe du Nord, the subterranean level of the Swedish American Hall, will officially revert to its previous life as a performance venue on June 1, marking the occasion with a kickoff party featuring local indie darling Rogue Wave.
Thomas McNaughton’s Ne Timeas restaurant group (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen) transitioned the basement space from louche music lair to swanky cocktail lounge and restaurant in 2015. At the same time, Ne Timeas transformed the ground level space above Cafe du Nord to create Basque tapas bar Aatxe. Shortly after Cafe du Nord closed its doors last month, remodeling to accommodate live music, Aatxe announced it too would close, leaving at the end of May with plans to relocate.
When Cafe du Nord resumes its life as a music hall, it won’t lose everything from its phase as a restaurant. The venue will bring back popular items like its beloved burger Du Nord, fried chicken bucket, and meatballs. Some cocktails from the past menu will also get an encore, and new items like a lobster roll from nearby Woodhouse Fish Co. will be added to a pared-down food menu. No coincidence there, as Woodhouse owner Dylan MacNiven operates the Swedish American Hall space.
As its name might suggest, the Swedish — built in 1907 — is a holdover from an era when Market Street was a hub for Scandinavian immigrants. The area’s unofficial designation “Finn Town” provided the name for a nearby restaurant opened by celebrity chef Ryan Scott last year.
Like acts at the Swedish American Hall’s central, upstairs venue, music at Cafe du Nord will be booked by Noise Pop. The independent music promoter was founded in 1993 and took over booking at the Swedish in 2015, making the historic venue its official hub.
“With so many challenges facing the Bay Area arts community, we are happy to help restore an amazing piece of its musical landscape,” says Noise Pop founder Kevin Arnold. “So many fond memories have been created at Cafe du Nord and the Swedish, and we hope to inspire many more in the future.” An initial performance calendar is below with a full calendar coming soon.