Welton Street Cafe, known by many as the heart (if not the stomach) of Five Points, is getting new digs.
The move has been in the works for a little while. But Fathima Dickerson, whose parents opened the business in 1986, broke the news on Brother Jeff Fard’s daily Facebook show Wednesday.
Dickerson told us the family has signed a lease for space at 2883 Welton St., across the street and a block up from the location where the business has operated for decades.
The restaurant had a tough run in 2020, dealing with a closed dining room due to COVID and a broken HVAC system that made kitchen work difficult. Dickerson, who is working on a master’s thesis on oppression and representation, spoke to us in May about these pressures through the lens of systemic challenges that face a Black-owned soul-food restaurant in a gentrified neighborhood. The business has been on the edge of closure all year.
“This represents a growth and a death, because we’ve been here for 22 years,” Dickerson told us during a break from an afternoon rush. “It’s bittersweet, but we’re looking forward to continuing to share our space with everyone who has supported us.”
Welton Street’s dining room has reopened since our last report from the restaurant. Dickerson said longtime customers who missed the experience have come back in droves. Delivery orders, which grew substantially during the pandemic, have continued to come in.
This combination has made for a busy time in a small space, so the move represents a chance to expand both the business’ staff and capacity. Still, Dickerson said her family will need help to land on solid ground. They’re planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for an architect and new infrastructure, they’ll likely need volunteers to help cart stuff across the street and she also said the family is “open” to investors who might want to get more involved with their brand.
“We want to be here for community, but we still need to continue reaching out to community for resources,” she said.
The family recognizes people see Welton Street Cafe as an integral part of Five Points’ identity, despite rapid change in the neighborhood over the last ten years. The coming campaign will ask people to reciprocate that love now that they’re entering a new season of change.
Dickerson said people should stay tuned via their Facebook page. If all goes well, they’ll make the move early in 2022.