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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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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