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The Heartland Cafe: 35 years in Rogers Park

Heartland Cafe co-owner Katy Hogan, soon after the cafe opened in 1976.

Heartland Cafe co-owner Katy Hogan, soon after the cafe opened in 1976.

The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park celebrates 35 years of serving “Good Wholesome Food for the Mind and Body!” on Thursday, Aug. 11.

Along with hearty fare, the unique cafe opened by Katy Hogan and Michael James in 1976 is still serving music, art and liberal politics. Politics brought the two together in October 1975, when they met at a concert benefiting the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union where Hogan then worked. The organization helped women get abortions before the groundbreaking Roe v. Wade case legalized the procedure in 1973.

They created more than a restaurant — the Heartland became a center for the community. It also features a general store that carries books, magazines, newspapers, healthy food and drinks, toys, clothing and gift items. A weekly live radio show broadcasts from the Heartland. Hogan and James have also expanded to create a dining and entertainment complex that also includes the Red Line Tap, Heartland Studio Theater and No Exit Cafe.

Anniversary events include:

  • Thursday, Aug. 11: The Retro Menu Prix Fixe Night, classic Heartland fare from the early days, recreated by Chef Ryan Serafini, and history, conversation, movies and pictures from the early days.

  • Friday, Aug. 12: Funkadesi concert, 9 p.m., tickets: $20. The world-music group, which played one of its earliest shows at the Heartland, returns for this anniversary.

  • Saturday, Aug, 13, Roots 101 concert, 9 p.m., tickets: $7. Reggae and soul with dancing.

  • Sunday, Aug. 14:

    • Heat of the Summer 5K Run & Walk, 7:30 a.m., free. The Heartland chapter of Athletes United for Peace sponsors this event, which begins with a walk to Loyola Park and then a run down a 5K course along the Lake Michigan shore.

    • Tribute Night, 4 p.m., a final night in tribute to the Heartland Cafe “family,” with music from Al Day, Mike Felten, Micki Croisant, Rick Veras, Andrew Calhoun, Donna Adler, Norm ‘Mad Dog’ Seigel and others.

During the anniversary celebration, the Heartland Cafe hosts the first Chicago exhibition of 46 photos from the blues photos of Terry Abrahamson, including images of the Rolling Stones, Muddy, Taj Mahal and the Blues Brothers’ Matt Murphy. The exhibition continues through Labor Day, Sept. 5.