CAFÉ RED OTHELLO STATION
RVCDF helped Café Red purchase a permanent home and grow its business—something the owners could not have done alone.
In 2015, area residents Jesiah Wurtz and Haley Williams started Café Red as a coffee cart servicing several South Seattle locations, including the Columbia City and Othello light rail stations.
“We soon saw the need for a casual low-cost community gathering space as well as the need for a platform for local artists and musicians to share their creativity,” said Jesiah.
They found an ideal location on the northeast corner of MLK, Jr. Way and South Othello Street, but needed help financing the purchase of the mobile building, as well as permitting, renovations and equipment costs.
“We were introduced to a program manager from RVCDF at an MLK Business Association business mixer in fall 2015,” said Haley. “She helped us work through the steps of applying for the loan, including gathering financial statements and finalizing our business plan.”
The loan allowed Café Red to secure the location and grow its business from a coffee cart—something the owners would not have been able to accomplish alone.
“We were significantly limited in the amount of income we could make with our mobile coffee cart setup, and by expanding our menu and providing this space to the community, we can bring in as much income in a couple days as we used to make in a week,” said Jesiah. “Café Red is the only espresso shop in Seattle serving Philippine coffee, as well as coffee and tea products not available elsewhere, in addition to hosting public events with live music open to all ages.”
“While we are proud of the products we offer, the most important thing we are doing is holding space for our community,” said Jesiah. “We are here at a unique moment. The wealth of many in this city is growing rapidly yet at the same time many of our neighbors are being priced out of their homes and feeling like they don’t belong in the neighborhood where they were raised. To us, the simple act of creating an inviting, welcoming and inclusive space for community members from all walks of life imaginable has been our greatest accomplishment.”
Looking forward, Jesiah and Haley are considering expanding into a larger space near Othello Station as well as creating similar community-focused spaces in other nearby south end neighborhoods. Those plans will require additional financing.
“We love being part of something bigger than ourselves! Our neighborhood has already made this space its home, and we feel honored to be able to interact with so many community members on a daily basis,” they say.