Ten days after a fundraiser launched to help move Welton Street Cafe to its future Five Points location, the restaurant had raised more than $50,000.
Still with $200,000 to go, co-owner Fathima Dickerson isn’t taking for granted the impending move of her family’s longtime Denver business.
After 22 years in its current location and nearly 40 years operating in some form, Welton Street Cafe has secured a location and a chance at a continued presence in Denver’s historically Black Five Points neighborhood.
What’s certain is that the restaurant will close on March 12 as the Dickerson family and their staff pack up and plan for a long road ahead of fundraising, community engagement and construction.
“We are still trying to see who is willing to partner with us,” Dickerson told The Denver Post on Tuesday. “We are here to share our story with the people so that they know to continue to hang in there. It’s a heck of a fight.”
Though the cafe has found a new location nearby to the original, at 2883 Welton St., that empty space needs a complete buildout, and the Dickersons have yet to receive traditional financing.
RELATED: Welton Street Cafe moving to new location after 22 years in current spot
“We’re running into the conversation of, ‘Well restaurants right now, because of COVID … . It’s too much of a risk … . You either didn’t make enough, or you didn’t lose enough (during the pandemic),” Dickerson explained of her unsuccessful loan applications.
“You feel like you have a lead, and then you’re back at square one,” she lamented.
So her family is asking for community support, in the form of the $250,000 GoFundMe drive.
They’re hoping any money raised through it provides the cafe “a running start” on the way to reopening, all while they continue to seek temporary commissary and “ghost” kitchens to cook out of in the interim, and look for more sustainable help from financial institutions or new business partners.
The team is planning a Welton Street Cafe farewell gala and other events before the March closure to continue fundraising momentum.
And if the money isn’t raised?
“What ultimately will happen is that it will delay the opening of the (new) space,” Dickerson said. “And the heart of Five Points will not even be the same. That pulse, that red line, it’s not going to be there.”
She worries that the ramifications will extend outward.
“You have a neighborhood that has changed so much, that if there is not an anchor business, it is going to affect the entire place,” she said. “It’s not like, this business closed, but I’m in the clear … . It is in the neighborhood, so one goes, someone else is on their way out.”
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