how to start your own non-profit cafe

 

One of the most common emails I get is about Q Cafe and it goes something like this:

How did you start Q Cafe?

and then it escalates into about 50 other additional questions. Q Cafe opened its doors in 2002 and during that time, there weren’t many folks to ask simply because there weren’t many who were doing these kinds of things. In the first couple years, I genuinely tried to be a good dude and attempted to answer those questions but eventually, I couldn’t sustain it. I stopped responding to most of the emails or at best, I responded with my infamous “Haiku Emails”…

Hey.
Your vision is cool.
Go for it.
Hard work.

And indirectly, I ended up being a jerk not because I’m a jerk (or at least, I hope I’m not) but I just couldn’t answer all the emails and our other cafe staff are stretched as it is. This is why we’ve tried to pull some resources together to be of some small assistance and encouragement to folks.

I ended up videotaping a Q/A session some time ago with a guy who was crazy enough to fly up to Seattle to work as our slave intern for couple weeks.  We always say no to these requests but he’s one of those folks that emailed and kept emailing. I’m sharing this video interview, articles, other videos, and pics as a resource to those who are interested in doing something similar – contextually – in their neck of the woods.

If you have any additional questions AFTER watching the video interview (below), ask them here as comments and I or one of my cafe staff will do our best to answer them. From here on out, I’ll simply refer people who email me to this blog entry.  * FWIW, my staff or I do some private consulting for a fee and also have a cafe manual  for $50 (email office@qcafe.org). I’d also strongly encourage you to read “My 5 Personal Advice for Entrepreneurs.” All the donations go to support the work of Q Cafe.

What is Q Cafe?

Q Cafe is non-profit neighborhood cafe in Seattle featuring direct trade espresso and tea, live music, art, and community events.

We proudly serve Stumptown Coffee; support local artists and musicians through our art gallery and live music venue; host many groups through the rental of our space; host community events; help collect resources for the homeless community; and give back 10% of all cafe sales to local and global non-profit causes. In addition to great coffee and tea, Q Cafe also features free WiFi for laptop users, 2 desktop kiosks for internet [30 minutes/purchase], a kids’ room for parents and children, countertop tables and benches for laptop user with easy access to outlets, a piano, and plenty of comfy chairs and sofas.

Relevant Links:

Interview, videos, and resources

And some pictures:

copy-of-coreys-pictures-050.jpg twellsatq3.jpg copy-of-_mg_0111.jpg lm6.jpg qhippop002.jpg _mg_4152.jpg nickelcreek3.jpg _c032454.jpg copy-of-_dsc0677.jpg

22 thoughts on “how to start your own non-profit cafe

  1. The cafe looks very awesome. Thought you might want to know that beginning at the second sentence on the cafe website is this:

    Our hours are Mon-Wed; Friday [8am-9pm]. We host an OPEN MIC on Tuesday evenings from 6-9.30pm. On Thursdays, we are open from 8am-9pm. We re-open on Fridays at 7.30pm for Live Music [shows begin at 8pm].

    In case you’ve seen it too many times to be able to tell, it doesn’t make sense. Mon-Wed & Fri 8a-9p, and oh, Th 8a-9p also. And after you close at 9p on Friday, you reopen at 7:30p. And on Tue you don’t actually close until 9:30.
    Anyway, the cafe sounds lovely. Wish I was ambitious enough to want to start one. 🙂

  2. Don’t worry, yours isn’t the only church failing to bless others with the knowledge its gained. I’m about to take on spending something like 2 days a week figuring out how our church can spread it’s wealth of resources, most of which could be described as “intellectual”.

  3. Again, thanks Eugene for letting me “be the Q’s slave”, haha! It really wasn’t bad. I had a great time and have learned so much from your staff. Like I said in the video, you’ve got a great team at Q! Please let em know I said thanks!

    By the way, if anyone is reading this who has started or is thinking of starting a cafe like this, please let me know (leave a comment on my blog). I would love to hear your story and just stay connected to people who share a similar passion.

    1. My small church is just now getting ready to set up a teen coffee house, we have been give a large house that we will be renting for $1 a month. Any suggestions on legal issues that might arise from having an open place for teens.

      Thanks,

      Jeri

  4. Hey Eugene,

    Thanks for this post, very informative. I’ve been one of those tons of emailers/facebook messagers bugging you about your vision, so thank you for your responses. I’ll definitely get in touch with Matt to share some thoughts.
    I’m developing a non-profit working on projects and partnering in Rwanda and Swaziland, and we finally have a temporary website up (www.changelivesfoundation.net), check us out.
    I am working on my own vision to develop a sustainable community coffee shop as well, but I understand it will take some time, and lots of outside sources.
    Thanks for the info and the updates, hope that One Days Wages is coming together for the official launch!
    Exciting stuff!
    -Best,
    Laura

  5. hey eugene! thanks so much for posting this! really helpful and insightful. an amazing story, and thanks for sharing the difficulties and struggles as well as the successes.

  6. So awesome! I was just sharing with people in Portland about Q-cafe and hoping to speak with you about it was on my priority list. Thanks for the post, but most of all, the inspiration….

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