The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative is helping to make food justice a reality for North Oakland. Along with serving delicious, community-based, and just food, the worker-owned cooperative ensures that its members—all of whom live in the neighborhood—will share in the cafe's governance and economic prosperity. The Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3)is assisting the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative in realizing this vision.
The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative has grown out of a community of food justice enthusiasts brought together by Phat Beets Produce, an organization that provides accessible, healthy, and local food to North Oakland. Every Saturday, several of the founding members of the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative attended the Phat Beets farmers' market. Along with their shared interest in food justice for North Oakland, these founding members soon realized other similarities: they were all residents of 57th Street, and they were all either underemployed or unemployed because of the economic crisis. And they all wanted to take more control over their workplace and their destinies by creating a worker-owned cooperative.
As these connections between the founding members grew, a space became available at 942 Stanford Avenue. A structure that once served as train dispatch in the 1920s, and later a small restaurant in the 1970s, was available for rent. Recognizing that the structure could serve as acooperative community space, the founding members seized the opportunity, and started building support for the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative. More people joined the effort, and a core group of founding members emerged.
The Crossroads team evolved organically, with each founding member taking on work that best suited his or her interests and skills. From implementing the build-out process, to managing kitchen operations, to bottom-lining administrative needs, members of the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative facilitated the transformation of 942 Stanford Avenue over the past year.
Throughout this effort, the team collaborated with GC3 for legal assistance. Some of the founding members attended last year’s Think Outside the Boss Workshop, and received legal guidance through a one-time follow-up consultation. The founding members soon entered GC3’s cooperative incubator program, through which GC3 continues to provide longer-term legal support to the Cooperative as it develops into afully-functioning, worker-owned, community cafe.
The Crossroads team also partnered with other community organizations to build the cafe and cooperative, including PUEBLO in Oakland. Youth from PUEBLO were critical to the renovation, and helped construct the cafe’s countertop.
Envisioning the Future
Soon, the Crossroads Cafe will be a fully functioning cafe, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the North Oakland community. But the space will be more than that. The founding members see 942 Stanford Avenue as a community space, where people can come to share inwholesome food, teach and learn about issues affecting the community, and access commercial kitchen space, which will be available for rent to community-based food businesses. The Phat Beets Farmers’ Market will continue to take place every Saturday at 942 Stanford Avenue.
Although the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative made incredible progress over the past year, the team has two major steps to take before the cafe fully launches. First, the team is working to complete the build-out process, which poses unique challenges because of the building’s age. Second, the cafe must receive permits before opening to the public.
Although each founding member has contributed substantially toward the construction and permitting efforts, they need more help. This is where you come in!
The team created an Indiegogo campaign, which will end on November 14th. The campaign will help the Crossroads team purchase the remaining appliances it needs to become eligible for permitting. If you want to support the Cooperative at this critical juncture in its development, be sure to click here to check it out.
And, if you feel like heading to an awesome party with a great cause this weekend, join the Crossroads team for its Old Skool ThrowBack Partyon Saturday, November 10, from 8pm to 2am, at ABCo Artspace (3135 Filbert St., Oakland).
The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative exemplifies GC3’s vision: to advance community resiliency by inspiring, informing, and incubating cooperative ventures. From attending a free legal workshop, to getting a legal consultation, to becoming an incubator client, the Crossroads team took part in every facet of GC3’s legal services program. We’re humbled by the opportunity to support the transformative work of the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative.