Seward Cafe launches donation drive


The Seward Cafe first opened its doors in October 1974 as part of the new-wave co-op movement that took root in Minneapolis’ West Bank during the early ’70s. The young café started off with a worn jukebox and a simple menu of veggie and meat burgers, with PBR and Olympia on tap. Those early years were rocky but sustained by the dedication of collective members who often worked on a volunteer basis. In 1975, Seward opened the breakfast menu, ushering in the now-beloved classics like the hashbrowns, buckwheat pancakes and Earth breakfasts. Today, after these 40-odd years, we’re one of the oldest operating worker-owned coops in the country and still aligned with our original ideals of egalitarianism, inclusion and community.  Jack, a cafe regular and loyal fan of the Basic Earth breakfast, says that it’s this community focus that makes the Seward so special.
A key element of this energy comes from the fact that the Café is cooperatively owned and operated by its workers. As one collective member put it: “Despite operating within capitalism, worker collectives offer fertile ground to cultivate values of mutual aid rather than greed and gain … there is a relationship of care and compassion between workers who own the business.”
But capitalism moves rapidly, and consensus slowly. As a people-oriented restaurant in a profit-driven world that places little value on mutual aid and cooperation, the going has not always been easy, and we’ve learned to be creative when finances were scant. As a result of Minneapolis’ increasingly competitive restaurant scene and structural shifts within the Café, we find ourselves today in a tight financial bind and in need of our community’s goodwill and generosity. Though it’s not always easy to ask for help, we’ve launched a donation drive to keep the doors open. Whether it’s just once, or as a regular occurrence, donations large and small will help us invest in a new, stronger financial infrastructure and build the solidarity economy in our city. As City Council member and longtime Café patron Cam Gordon says, “For me, and I think for many in our community, the Café is just the kind of business we want to support and see thrive in our neighborhood.  It is both a place filled with cherished memories of family, activism, artistic endeavor and community, as well as a go-to place for us to keep connecting, building community and working for the better future we want for ourselves, our community and our generations to come.”
For more than 40 years, the Seward Cafe has been a home for the community, providing good food and good work. With your help, we hope to stay open for years to come!
To donate, see sewardcafe/fundraiser/ or stop by the counter to donate in person.
All donors are invited to a Gala on the evening of Saturday, March 31, to celebrate the community’s contribution to the Café.

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