Second Conversation in Northeast Minneapolis

As mentioned in the past two background reports on history and contemporary contexts, it is not too much say that the Northeast Minneapolis is such a multicultural spot. Walking down the University Avenue in St. Anthony, for instance, I came across many churches that provide services and worship in diverse languages; such as French, Ukrainian, and Polish. When deciding a place to have an interview with someone from a different country other than the United States, a person from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church recommended going this place- Emily’s Lebanese Deli.

Upon opening the door to enter the Lebanese Deli, smells unfamiliar came to me as encounter with new culture! All foods are new for me besides the dessert of crispy pastry with nuts and honey which is known as a baklava. I was kind of nervous of starting a conversation, but said “hi” to manager with a smiling face.

How long have you worked here?

for 38 years.

Wow, then you must be proud of operating this restaurant for such a long time.

(Proudly) This is a family-owned restaurant and we provide authentic Lebanese food.

I really want to try some! I will buy one of them for sure after this interview! Haha

Yeah, of course.

So you have lived in this area in the past decades?

I have but my parents are actually the first generation of immigration.

Do you think this area changed a lot since you’ve been here?

Yeah it did, I guess. Population has changed a lot. Many young artists moved into this area and urban professions are also living in this area , I believe. This area has been a quite industrialized part of the Northeast Minneapolis.

Your parents immigrated to the United States…(like talking to myself)

Yes. When I was young, a long time ago, I grew up living close to a toxic waste plant.

Oh, you did? I see… Do you have anything else to share that you think it’s different from now?

Many buildings were constructed nearby or along the river…people working there, actually, were blue-collar workers that consisted of mostly immigrants. A lot of differences exist…I don’t remember them all though…two minutes more, just two minutes!

(It was about lunch-time, so a couple group of people started coming in. The interviewee wanted me to wrap it up quickly for business)

I’m sorry! Okay. Are there any major issues or concerns that people in the St. Anthony care about?

Issues? Like political or economic issues?

Yeah any issue or concern people in this area consider it important…

Well, definitely crimes matter. A suburban might have lower rates of crimes comparing to urban area. More crimes occurred in here, this urban area, but it’s not bad, I think. And traffic maybe. Especially the University 2nd and Main Street are busy area, you know.

That’s kind of good news…that’s probably because the security system in this Northeast area works on it. Okay, here is the last question! Do you have a religion? I’m just wondering since I saw quite a few churches while walking down here…Just 10 minute-walk?

I go to Catholic Church near here. I’ve got involved in Lebanese community for over 40 years so we sometimes go to church together…

I see. I will wrap it up here and thank you so much for your time. And can I get a baklava? I’ve tried this dessert once before and it was really good.

This is sweet and delicious.

Thank you again!

Many people came into a restaurant while he was doing an interview so I could also have a very short conversation with a group of people. Speaking of which, they-Dennis, Carla, and Rebecca- considered themselves regular customers who visit here a couple of times a month. One of them also said this Lebanese Deli is the best restaurant in this area when they were asked if there is a good place to go other than this.

It was very special experience for me to have a conversation with an immigrant from Lebanon. After an interview, I reached a conclusion like he is definitely a contributor to cultural diversity of Northeast Minneapolis, especially the St. Anthony neighborhood. Furthermore, all things taken together, it looks like he positions himself, at least in Northeast Minneapolis, a successful businessman or entrepreneur, though it would have been tough for him to adjust himself and settle here as a generation of immigration. It was lucky for me to have this kind of conversation which would have never done without Twin Cities Neighborhood Project, I believe.


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