'Drunk Don's' McDonald's makes long-awaited return to Dinkytown

University of Minnesota students walk into a McDonald's
University of Minnesota students enter the newly reopened McDonald's in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
Carly Berglund | MPR News

The McDonald’s located just off the University of Minnesota campus, warmly referred to as “Drunk Don’s” by students, made its triumphant return to Dinkytown on Tuesday.

The location closed in 2020 to make room for an apartment complex that finished construction earlier this fall. Melissa Kennedy, the owner of the location, said she’s focused on bringing back an integral piece of the Dinkytown and campus community.

“It’s changed so much over the years. The world has changed, and Dinkytown has changed,” Kennedy said. “People are walking in with so much joy for something that feels nostalgic, but still feels like this new Dinkytown.”

An iconic red and gold balloon arch signified the restaurant’s grand reopening and welcomed students to the new space, which includes changes like a mobile and kiosk-only ordering model.

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Some U of M students, like Hailey Felt and Allie Shane, were freshmen when the restaurant closed in 2020. Now, they’re seniors.

“It’s a complete full-circle moment from freshman year,” Shane said.

“This is momentous,” Felt added.

Students may notice the restaurant’s walls remain mostly empty, with the exception of a few McDonald’s signs. Kennedy said the absence of decor was intentional as she works to find pieces to properly honor the history of the last location.

The reopening of “Drunk Don’s” is somewhat a rite of passage for younger students who didn’t experience the restaurant before it closed, like Noah Kohut-Jackson.

“It’s going to be busy. It’s going to be a key fixture in Dinkytown culture,” Kohut-Jackson said.

The restaurant will be open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends until its approved for later nights from the city of Minneapolis. Kennedy said once approved, McDonald’s plans to work with the Minneapolis Police Department on a staggered late-night schedule to ensure safety for students and the community.