Gourmet food in DTLA’s Skid Row? Might seem crazy to many, but not to Hub LA member Hassan Nichols. Hassan and his business partners are opening Manifesto Cafe in April. The cafe is more than a food provider. Hassan envisions the cafe serving the community in a much more substantial way: by offering a gathering place, job opportunities, aesthetic brightness to the neighborhood, and healthy and affordable food options that also happen to be quite tasty. We wanted to learn more about Manifesto Cafe, so we asked Hassan a couple of questions about his project. Hope to see you all there soon!
What is Manifesto Cafe and how did you get the idea for it?
Manifesto Cafe is a social enterprise cafe and mini market in Skid Row that serves affordable healthy food, creates jobs and positive social impact. We align with socially-responsible businesses, community gardens, and local community organizations in an effort to create a safer, healthier, and progressive Skid Row.
Why Skid Row? What do you role do you see your “Social Cafenterprise” playing in the neighborhood?
Why Skid Row? Why not? The Skid Row of recent memory paints a story of poverty, distress, crime and drug abuse. The area is served well by several nonprofit organizations but manages to exist in the paradox of gentrification and development that affects the majority of Downtown Los Angeles. It is a salient dichotomy that over time we have learned to expect and become desensitized to. Food justice and food security aren’t just buzz words, but are realities for Skid Row residents. And access to healthy food can be an expectation or luxury depending on where you live. Our social cafenterprise is a literal and social investment into that community. With purpose, we are making a public declaration that Skid Row counts too. Just because people carry the image of Skid Row as an unwanted visitor, it is a real community with vision and opportunity.
We’ve had a chat with Skid Row Housing Trust around “designing for social good”, in other words, the consideration that design plays an important (but often over-looked) role in encouraging social impact. We’ve designed what we feel is a mission-driven project that brings a social, economic, and visual aesthetic to a community that in some ways has been abandoned.
What drew you to Hub LA and what kinds of collaborations or connections are you looking to get here?
We needed a space to congregate. There is much wealth in sharing and the exchange of ideas. The Hub LA is like a modern day ‘community square’ that attracts thinkers, change-makers, creatives and other like-minded people under one proverbial roof to create, build and learn. It seems like the place to network, make relationships and do good in LA.
When can we come check out the cafe?
We can give you a tentative month. April. (But don’t hold us to that! Things happen)