So long to the Mark Twain Cafe in Clements

Deb Moldaschel
Redwood Falls Gazette

The end of a long local history has come to an end in Clements, with the demolition of the old Mark Twain Cafe on March 16. Owner Vicky Dahmes was sad to see it go down, but after a struggle with a distant loan servicing company stretched on too long the building was beyond repair.  

A familiar sight in Clements, the old Mark Twain Cafe building came down on March 16.

“I bought this building at an auction in 2003 with intentions to continue using it as a restaurant, but I wasn’t grandfathered in and would have had to make major kitchen upgrades,” said Dahmes, “so I used it as a housing rental instead and did this for several years. Dahmes said she isn’t sure how old the building was, but remembers reading something about it being one of the first commercial buildings in Clements, which celebrated its centennial in 2000.

“Last week a lot of people stopped to tell me their stories with the cafe,” said Dahmes. “They were sorry to hear it was coming down.”

Dahmes also has good memories of the cafe.

“When I was a kid, the Mark Twain was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Orvie Jensen and they lived upstairs,” she said. “After softball games adults and kids would go there for burger and french fries. Before my time, on Sundays, they had good chicken and beer. In the summer they would have sweet corn feeds in the grass lots next to the Mark Twain.”

Dahmes wanted to share her story of how the old cafe building met its final fate, as a word of caution to others who learn their mortgage or other loan has been sold to a different financial institution.

“I had a loan with Citi Financial for many years, then it transferred to a company called Bayview Loan Servicing in Dallas, Texas,” she said. “After some time I asked for a modification to the loan. I completed all the paperwork and sent it back, but they said the didn’t receive it—even though they signed the certified mail receipt. I called numerous times, but was just put on hold for a long time.” 

Then Dahmes asked the Minnesota Attorney General’s office for help and they began dealing with Bayview in November 2018. The AG’s office asked Bayview to respond to a number of items: their assertion that the loan modification paperwork was not received, threatened foreclosure, Bayview’s statement that Dahmes filed for bankruptcy—which wasn’t true.

“After back and forth with the AG’s office and Bayview, the property went into foreclosure and a date was set for a sheriff’s sale,” said Dahmes. “As of that day they put different locks on the door. Minnesota statutes require a redemption period of one year and Bayview tried selling the property before the redemption period was up.”

The next step for Dahmes was to get an attorney involved to help sort things out. Eventually, Bayview dropped the foreclosure and placed the property back in Dahmes name. 

“From the time of the ‘sale’ until the property was back in my name was one year—it was recorded in my name on Dec. 28, 2020,” she said. By that time the roof had collapsed into the basement.

“The building could have been saved and fixed one year ago, but was a complete loss by the time I got it back,” said Dahmes.

The Mark Twain Cafe was demolished on March 16 at noon—the end of an era in Clements.