A part of Five Points’ legacy

Welton Street Café seeks community’s help with move

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When someone walks into Welton Street Café, they’re not just customers.

“Welton Street Café means family,” said Fathima Dickerson, one of the restaurant’s co-owners. “We are here for family. We are here for community. We are here to serve. We serve our community, and our community is our family.”

Welton Street Café, which is family owned and operated, got its start serving Denver’s Five Points community in 1986, eventually making itself known for being the place where one could get a pate — an island-style fried pastry stuffed with various fillings — and a Coke for $1.

People “got hooked,” said Chereka Dickerson, Welton Street Café’s communications manager, “and (the restaurant) became a staple.”

It opened a permanent location at 2736 Welton St. in July 1999. The space has served Welton Street Café well, however, it was known well before the pandemic hit that the establishment had outgrown the space, Dickerson said.

“The kitchen is so small,” Dickerson said. And “so many things need updated, it doesn’t make sense to stay.”

While the restaurant is surviving the pandemic, thanks to “the strength of our customers,” Dickerson said, a number of other issues have recently come about — namely, problems with the HVAC system in the old building, which Dickerson guesses was probably built sometime in the 1980s.

Welton Street Café’s current lease is up in March, and the restaurant is looking to move into a new, larger space about a block and a half away at 2883 Welton St., which it found in May 2021.

While the new location is secured, funding is an issue. Efforts to receive funding from sources such as government grants and loans, business loans and corporate grants have been unsuccessful, Dickerson said.

“So we are reaching out to our community for support,” states the message on Welton Street Café’s Go Fund Me page. “If we have our village behind us, then we can continue to serve.”

The Go Fund Me was launched on Jan. 13 with a $250,000 goal. This will be enough to help the restaurant build out before opening, meaning the money will be used to purchase equipment, furnishings, fixtures and other supplies.

“We’re trying to secure (enough) to give us a running start,” Dickerson said.

Welton Street Café hopes to not be out of operation for too long, even if it temporarily operates out of a ghost kitchen, or does only catering or popup events during the time before it can reopen in its new space, Dickerson said. Knowing also that the new space will need to go through the city’s permitting and inspections, the hope is to have Welton Street Café reopened in the new space by mid-2022.

Within the first week of launching the Go Fund Me, Welton Street Café’ had reached about 25% of its goal. By Jan. 21, a little more than $79,000 had been raised.

“It’s so heartwarming that we’re receiving this amount of support,” Dickerson said. “People in Denver like to see these mom-and-pop shops survive.”

Welton Street Café is a beloved part of the community, and especially among Denver’s Black population. Historically, Five Points is known as the Harlem of the West, Dickerson said.

“There’s a lot of Black history centered in Five Points. This is where Black folks lived, and frequented the businesses,” Dickerson said.

Welton Street Café is part of that legacy, she added.

“We know people’s names when they come in,” Dickerson said. “It means a lot to people.”

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