The NURISH Food + Drink campaign is scheduled to close tonight at 11:59pm. We are a little more than half-way there but we need to bridge the gap! This is one of those 'all or nothing' campaigns -- if we don't raise the totaly $15,000 in loan pledges the cafe doesn't get any of the money. To become one of those generous people go HERE to make your loan pledge.
33 generous people have already pledged $8,100 in loans that will be paid every 12 quarters (that is 3 years). For example, a $50 loan is paid with 12 payments of $4.17. Loan pledges can be from $25 to $5,000 (where is a corporate sponsor when you need one?!)
Regardless of where you live --- it doesn't have to be east of the river --- we could use your support. Ward 8 has approximately 73,000 residents but we only have 4 sit-down places to eat. We are literally in a food dessert when it comes to healthy food options. We need you to help us attract and retain quality small business that provide healthy and diverse food options.
I am reposting an interview that Clovest did with Kera Carpenter, owner of Domku in Petworth and who will also be the owner of the the NURISH Food + Drink cafe in Anacostia. Please read and hopefully give!!!!!
XOXO-- The Advoc8te
Kera Carpenter, owner of Domku + founder of NURISH, inside Domku Cafe in Petworth
Clovest: You opened Domku eight years ago in Petworth. Why?
KC: I wanted to open a restaurant close to home. When I bought a house on this side of town, I was frustrated by the fact that there was nowhere to grab dinner or a cup of coffee without getting in my car and driving to another part of the city. I thought with all the people moving into this part of town that I couldn’t possibly be the only person that felt this way. When a friend of mine told me about this space, it seemed like the perfect location to open a business.
Clovest: When you first opened, what was the reception like?
KC: It was great! I had a lot of support. I had some resistance from the older community, but for the first two years, roughly 80% of my customers were regular locals. Most people in the restaurant business thought this probably wasn’t a wise decision, but once I was established and they saw how the neighborhood was changing, little by little they started to come over here. It’s still not as good as I’d like it to be but it’s definitely improving.
Clovest: Did you host events for the community?
KC: A lot compared to most places. When I first opened I began the Upshur Street Arts Fair, and that was held in Domku for the first four or five years, but as it got bigger we moved it to the street outside. It features DC based artists selling crafts as well as local food vendors. It’s become a Petworth tradition.
Clovest: After 8 years of running Domku, why open a café in Anacostia?
KC: I would have to ask, why not Anacostia? It’s changing just like every other part of the city. Maybe not as quickly, but people there want to have good food and drink just like anywhere else.
Clovest: The NURISH café has been introduced to local residents through a pop-up night held in the Arts Center as well as through presentations you've given at community meetings. How did the community feel about the cafe at those events?
KC: People are really craving for things to do in Anacostia. When Arch or whoever holds an event, they get a really great turnout because people want to support anything that’s new and exciting going on in their area. During the pop-up night, I think we served about 150 meals in a short amount of time, which is great. We had positive feedback from all the people who ate the food, and great feedback in particular about the food vendor, and that’s part of the goals of NURISH – to nurture new food entrepreneurs.
Kera presenting her vision for the NURISH cafe at the Arch Development Corporation's spring community meeting.
Clovest: That’s one of the things we’re most excited about with this café. Given your background with StartUp kitchen in conjunction with Think Local First, what are your initial plans for incubating food vendors in the southeast?
KC: 15% of the proceeds from the café will go toward a youth program that will eventually be housed there. Once the café is established, the pool of funds collected will be used to train a small group of young adults who are interested in food careers, and being entrepreneurs in the food business. They’ll go through a series of workshops about food, health, finances, and the business side of things, and get on the job training from running the café for a period of time. If they need assistance getting placed in culinary school or a job somewhere, we will assist with that.
Clovest: Why did you choose to use Clovest to finance this café?
KC: I liked your focus on community and small-scale projects. For a lot of small businesses it’s hard to get funding from traditional avenues, and a lot of people are using other crowdfunding options like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, but the great thing about what you guys offer is that you manage everything. We don’t have to keep track of tote bags and coffee cups and pens and things like that. I have a hard time asking people to give me money, and promising to pay them back makes it more palatable. It’s a loan, not charity.