Skip to main content

Owner of not-yet-open Minneapolis gay bar sparks antisemitism uproar

Cheers gay bar is facing huge backlash before it's even opened.
Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 8.03.20 AM

The owner of a soon-to-open gay bar in Minneapolis' Lowry Hill neighborhood has become embroiled in an antisemitism row after some of his old Facebook posts came to the attention of the city's Jewish and LGBTQ communities.

Emad Yousef Abed is the businessman reportedly behind Cheers, an LGBTQ-friendly bar in the former home of Rudolph's Bar-B-Que at Lyndale and Franklin.

He had launched a GoFundMe campaign (since deactivated) to raise $2 million to get the bar open in time for Pride, but now a protest called "Queers Against Cheers" is being planned outside the bar on the planned opening day of June 21.

It comes after posts on Facebook drew attention to some of the comments made by Abed in the past, including saying "Israel and its people must be eliminated from existence," "Hitler should have finished them all," and "All world problems are caused by Israelis and Jews."

Abed then started responding to people on a Facebook thread by Andy Birkey, with one of the comments saying:

“This community is a joke. We don’t want their business or support. They can take their money to the Saloon & Gay 90. Without this group commenting on this post we will do big business and we will be the number one gay bar in town Without all the stupid losers commenting on this post Andy Birkey can take his post and shuv it up his gay ass. ❤️ this group here they are all racist, prejudice, biased and discriminatory, that’s why they are not welcome in my bar. My bar will still be number one without them and without their money.”

Another screenshot showed him telling a commenter: "I’m in business to make money. You and your community can kiss my ass and none of you evil people commenting on this post are allowed in my bar. Go have a drink in hell because all of you are going there when you exit this earth."

The comments sparked responses from the Jewish and LGBTQ communities, with the bar's Facebook page inundated with negative reviews. It has since been deleted.

Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, told TC Jewfolk: "While the overwhelmingly negative response to this bigot is heartening, this latest expression of hate demonstrates how quickly unhinged opposition to Israel and Zionism devolves into anti-Semitism."

Also responding was Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, himself Jewish, who said on Twitter: "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. 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 the welcoming ones. L’chaim! (Not Cheers)."

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

Abed spoke to Twin Cities Business Magazine earlier this week, saying he'd abandoned his plans to raise the $2 million after the scrutiny he was getting on social media.

TCB notes that Red Star LLC, the company owned by Abed that's behind the bar, could now face losing the liquor license approved this past February for the bar.

Abed confirmed to City Pages that the posts made were his, but insisted he wasn't an antisemite, saying his comments about Israel and Palestine are just "reporting the facts."

He also told the magazine that "most of my friends are Jewish, and I love them."

Next Up

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.


41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.


Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 6.57.31 AM

Police: Drunk-driver almost struck people watching parade in Bemidji

The man was arrested for DWI charges following the incident.


Graffiti swastika

Swastika, antisemitic threat graffitied on Minneapolis school door

The daubing was found at Lake Harriet Community Upper School.

Screen Shot 2020-05-17 at 10.33.50 PM

AG Ellison sues Stearns County bar owner who plans to open

Bars and restaurants are still subject to a mandatory shutdown due to COVID-19.

Bar beer

Minneapolis lifts COVID restriction limiting bar service

The city kept the ban in place while statewide restrictions were loosened in January.

Screen Shot 2019-07-13 at 9.46.24 AM

'Chaotic scene' after shots fired at downtown rooftop bar

It comes just 6 weeks after a fatal stabbing on the same block.

Shooters Bar and Grill

Charges: Bar owner hosted card game in defiance of COVID-19 order

He's the first to be charged with violating the order closing dine-in service at bars and restaurants.

First Covenant Church of Minneapolis

Minneapolis church facing eviction over its LGBTQ support

The national Evangelical Covenant Church is to decide on whether to remove the church from its roster.