Fathima Dickerson wasn’t so optimistic about the future of Welton Street Cafe when the restaurant’s original Five Points location, at 2736 Welton St., closed last March. Dickerson and her family, who have run the soul food mainstay since 1986, were on a month-to-month lease and couldn’t reach an extended agreement with their landlord, The Flyfisher Group.
She had already signed a five-year lease for a new, larger space down the block at 2883 Welton St. (in a building owned by a different landlord, VanWest Partners). But money was tight, and Dickerson wasn’t sure if the family would be able to afford the buildout.
Now, after operating a temporary, take-out only commissary kitchen to keep the money flowing, in addition to raising $107,945 on GoFundMe, Dickerson finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. (The lease at the commissary kitchen at 2258 California St., ended in September.)
“Welton Street Cafe is here to stay,” Dickerson told The Denver Post last week.
The family turned to GoFundMe because they’d struggled to qualify for state and city grants or loans, she explained. The campaign launched on Jan. 1 with a goal of $250,000.
“Cooking the food is the easy part, but everything else has been hard,” she said.
Now, the business is waiting on permit approvals from the city, which Dickerson expects to get next month, and they plan to undergo six months of construction that she said will cost around $500,000. Welton Street Cafe plans to open in its new space with a bar and patio in 2023.
The business has hired Desibl, a Black-owned architecture firm based in Five Points, to design the space, as well as a financial advisor and restaurant consultant.
“We’ve never built a restaurant,” Dickerson said. “We’ve always been in a space that’s restaurant ready, so the campaign was another route to get the resources we need.”
Since closing its temporary location, Dickerson said the restaurant has lost some loyal employees, so she’s looking for a new commissary kitchen space while she waits.
After two years of uncertainty, Dickerson feels confident in the business’ momentum.
“Once we finish weathering the storm, we’ll know what we built over these years, and everything we’ve been through, will all be worth it in the end,” she said.
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