Domku owner Kera Carpenter is bringing a new cafe called Nurish Food + Drink to the Anacostia Arts Center this fall that will serve as an extension of her nonprofit food incubator and a training ground for young food entrepreneurs. Just a little more than one week remains for Carpenter to reach her goal of raising $15,000 through Clovest, a D.C.-based crowd-funding site in which people provide microloans that will eventually be repaid.
The cafe, open evenings only, will serve what Carpenter calls “French express” with sandwiches, salads, tartines, pastries, charcuterie, cheese boards, pickled veggies, and verrines (meals in a cup) as well as beer and wine. Because the space does not have a kitchen, the food will be preprepared in Domku’s kitchens.
What will be unique about the cafe is that Carpenter’s nonprofit NURISH: The Center for a Creative Culinary Economy will operate a training program there for high school students and recent graduates in Anacostia who are interested in becoming food entrepreneurs—”not just learning how to cut a vegetable,” Carpenter says. The cafe will give 15 percent of its profits to the parent non-profit.
Carpenter says she had previously worked with the Anacostia Arts Center on various pop-up events and was helping them find a tenant for the cafe before she decided to take on the space. “We were having a hard time finding someone who was really interested in going to Anacostia, so I agreed to do that,” Carpenter says. Part of the mission of her organization is encouraging food businesses to go into under-served neighborhoods.
The $15,000 that Nurish Food + Drink is hoping to raise will go toward things like an espresso machine, refrigerators, and furniture. The initial deadline to meet the loan goal through Clovest was Aug. 1. Like Kickstarter, if the project does not reach its goal, it doesn’t get any money. But because it’s one of the first projects featured on the crowd-funding site, the deadline has been extended to Aug. 15. As of now, the cafe has raised $11,575.
Carpenter says the cafe will open regardless of whether she’s able to raise the money through Clovest. “It’s not meant to fund the project entirely. It’s gap funding,” Carpenter says of the $15,000. “I could do it without it, but it would be harder.”
If all goes as planned, Nurish is slated to open in early October.