Denver’s Welton Street Cafe plans to open a new location in early 2023

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Fathima Dickerson wasn’t so optimistic about the future of the Welton Street Cafe when the original location of the Five Points restaurant, at 2736 Welton St., closed last March. Dickerson and his family, who have run the soul food stalwart since 1986, had a month-to-month lease and were unable to strike an extended deal with their owner, The Flyfisher Group.

She had already signed a five-year lease for a new, larger space at 2883 Welton St. (in a building owned by another landlord, VanWest Partners). But money was tight, and Dickerson wasn’t sure the family would be able to afford the construction.

Now after operation of a temporary take-out restaurant only commissioner’s kitchen to get the money flowing, in addition to raising $107,945 on GoFundMe, Dickerson finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. (The commissioner’s kitchen lease at 2258 California St. ended in September.)

“The Welton Street Cafe is here to stay,” Dickerson told the Denver Post last week.

The family turned to GoFundMe because they had struggled to qualify for state and city grants or loans, she explained. The campaign launched on January 1 with a goal of $250,000.

“Cooking the food is the easy part, but everything else was hard,” she said.

(Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

A steaming plate of oxtail stew ready to be picked up during lunch service at Welton Street Cafe on June 7, 2019.

Now the company is awaiting city permit approvals, which Dickerson expects to get next month, and they plan to undergo six months of construction that it says will cost around $500,000. Welton Street Cafe plans to open in its new space with a bar and patio in 2023.

The firm hired Desibl, a black-owned architecture firm based in Five Points, to design the space, along with a financial adviser and restaurant consultant.

“We never built a restaurant,” Dickerson said. “We’ve always been in a restaurant-ready space, so the campaign was another way to get the resources we need.”

Since closing her temporary location, Dickerson said the restaurant has lost loyal employees, so she’s been looking for a new commissary kitchen space while she waits.

After two years of uncertainty, Dickerson feels confident in the dynamics of the business.

“Once we’re done weathering the storm, we’ll know what we’ve built over these years, and everything we’ve been through will be worth it in the end,” she said.

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