Beer:30 to offer sneak peek of new Seeds Community Café

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Seeds Community Café will be soft opening sometime next week, says organizer Lyn Harwell, with a grand opening scheduled for Monday, Sept. 16. Meanwhile, you can get a sneak peek at the space from 5:30 to 7:30 tomorrow night with the Colorado Springs Public Market Project's Beer:30 event. You can view the flier here:

CSPMP_Beer-30_Ad-791x1024.pdf

I took a tour of the Seeds spaces (the separate catering arm and community space to follow the café opening) last Friday with Harwell. Here are some teasers for what's to come:

A sign whose time is about to come to an end. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A sign whose time is about to come to an end.

According to Harwell and volunteer coordinator Amy LaFaver, Seeds will be about 80 percent volunteer driven, with openings for hosts, servers, cooks and baristas. The cafe's website and Facebook page will feature links to daily volunteer spots, they say. 

"It's an opportunity to serve a healthy meal to people and engage them in great food, and to talk eye-to-eye with people," says Harwell. "It's really about loving the community and connecting them together to each other — people from different socioeconomic backgrounds where they can come converse as community should be —  to reflect to our city what community can be." 

LaFaver says she has been receiving eight to 10 volunteer requests per day for the last few months, which shows strong early interest in Seeds' mission. 

Pallet gardens will seasonally act as both decor and functional food production elements on the community space's rooftop. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Pallet gardens will seasonally act as both decor and functional food production elements on the community space's rooftop.

Seeds has partnered with more than 50 local agencies and organizations to achieve the community cafe model that reaches out to underserved or marginalized individuals. One example would be the Department of Human Services, says Harwell, who can engage such folks in need as single mothers who could bring their children in for a nutritious meal, perhaps rolling silverware afterward or bussing some tables in exchange for the food, versus having to pay cash.
 
Sous chef and zero-waste coordinator Jess E. Hoffman (left) and cafe operational manager Anne Blair finish paint touch-ups among other pre-opening tasks, all done as volunteer work. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Sous chef and zero-waste coordinator Jess E. Hoffman (left) and cafe operational manager Anne Blair finish paint touch-ups among other pre-opening tasks, all done as volunteer work.

Jess E. Hoffman, sous chef for Seeds, will work with Future Pointe to eliminate waste, by composting, recycling and even saving non-compostable food waste to feed animals at farms, he says, "creating a model for other restaurants." 

Former Colorado Coffee Merchants employee Anne Blair will be Seeds' operational manager, helping put the volunteers to work and also assisting catering coordinator Beth Alexander with the catering arm on site and at venues like The Carter Payne

The Mural Project of Colorado Springs artistic director Lance Green (left) and president Jennifer Ryan helped creat signs for Lyn Harwell (right) and Seeds Cafe, as well as provided murals inside the downstairs patio space. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Mural Project of Colorado Springs artistic director Lance Green (left) and president Jennifer Ryan helped creat signs for Lyn Harwell (right) and Seeds Cafe, as well as provided murals inside the downstairs patio space.

Lance Green and Jennifer Ryan of The Mural Project of Colorado Springs say their intent is to reach at-risk community members, engage them in the mural creation process and help them "realize healing through art."

Green — who referred to touching, breakthrough moments while working with "little thugs" during similar outreach he did years ago in Los Angeles — discussed the symbolism of handprints. They're a mark, not only of passage through a place, but also of blessing and signifying that you are part of something — in this case this community-minded project. 

"It's a lot more than just, 'Let's put handprints on this, kids, won't it be fun.'"

One of Lance Green's murals, of "people that symbolize the concept of Seeds Community Cafe," he says. "People presenting the bounty of the earth." - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • One of Lance Green's murals, of "people that symbolize the concept of Seeds Community Cafe," he says. "People presenting the bounty of the earth."

In addition to this mural and two other mostly-complete ones, Green plans to add a mural of an Indian man plowing a field with two oxen. He describes his style as expressionist and very simple, often stemming from photos torn from books or magazines. 

This upstairs patio will be utilized as private function as well as community space for Seeds catering arm. It overlooks the alleyway behind Il Vicino and the Ritz Grill. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • This upstairs patio will be utilized as private function as well as community space for Seeds catering arm. It overlooks the alleyway behind Il Vicino and the Ritz Grill.

The downstairs patio at Seeds will seat around 20 people, while the dining room seats around 60. The upstairs banquet patio should fit somewhere in between. 

Just inside from the upstairs patio, a large room will act as banquet space as well as community space for events like yoga classes or workshops. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Just inside from the upstairs patio, a large room will act as banquet space as well as community space for events like yoga classes or workshops.

Harwell credits building owner Chuck Murphy for "substantial" contributions to Seeds launch, as well as entities like United Restaurant Supply, who has donated big-ticket items like refrigerators, a grill and dishware.

He projects his startup costs have thus far been around $30,000 considering the donations and volunteer time of the staff thus far. He imagines that number would have been well over $100,000 otherwise. He called the move-in "turnkey" for the most part, with mostly cosmetic upgrades and "very minor stuff from the health department."  

The upgraded and overhauled dining room, with donated tables from United Restaurant Supply and donated chairs from Colorado Coffee Merchants. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The upgraded and overhauled dining room, with donated tables from United Restaurant Supply and donated chairs from Colorado Coffee Merchants.

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