Eugene Cho

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

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21 Responses

  1. Angela Harms says:

    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. wow…
    awesome ideas
    i love it so much…

  3. 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”.

  4. […] This post was Twitted by CharityGiving […]

  5. mattbusby says:

    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.

    • Jeri Clos says:

      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

  6. 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

  7. dave in hawaii says:

    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.

  8. simplyintentional says:

    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….

  9. […] Eugene Cho writes about how to start your own non-profit community cafe. […]

  10. Thanks for posting these videos! I’m one of the Pastors at Crosspoint Church where Matt has interned.

    (And he’s a stinker for not sharing this with me)

    Looking forward to his continuing story.

  11. […] And for those with questions about starting your own non-profit cafe -> click here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)zoka’s or stumptown coffee? « beauty […]

  12. […] – along with some other things – to give up “coffee” during the Lent season. Trust me, for someone that runs a cafe, has his offices in a cafe, and has access to free Stumptown coffee whenever I want, this will […]

  13. […] along with some other things — to give up coffee during the season of Lent. Trust me, as someone who runs a cafe, has his offices in this cafe, and has access to free Stumptown Coffee whenever I want, this will […]

  14. Alisha says:

    Hey everyone, we just opened our non-profit Tea shop and Cafe here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It has been months in the planning, so wish us luck.

  15. Jf says:

    A Christian superstar who doesn’t return phone call – – – never mind.

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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