Lockwood Cafe is a part of the Reliable Street project. Our friends Lindsay Nissen and Elliot Thompson purchased an old, derelict grain elevator on Reliable Street in Ames, IA in the hopes of making a space that encourages community and connection through art. The elevator, located in northwest Ames, is in a food desert with no walkable amenities. Shortly after purchasing the building, Lindsay and Elliot approached my husband and I and asked if we would be interested in opening a cafe, knowing it had been a dream of mine since forever.
The name Lockwood was chosen because the first business on the property was Lockwood Grain and Coal. Our hope is to bring back the relationship this land once had as a place of gathering and connection. Historically, the grain elevator was a place where farmers would get grain prices, drink coffee, and gather. While we may not know the current grain prices, we will be drinking coffee and gathering.
While trying to figure out what Lockwood should look like, we spent time getting to know some of our neighbors and the local community asking the question, "what do you want?" By combining the responses with the dream we had already cultivated, the Lockwood Cafe vision was built.
Lockwood Cafe will serve locally sourced food, beverages, and art. Additionally we hope to be an incubator for others who wish to open small businesses on a small budget. We combined all our savings and took out a loan for $80,000. (We decided to make the Kickstarter amount 10% of the debt we have taken on.) Austin and I, along with a bunch of volunteers, have done as much of the build-out as possible. Additionally, over the last three years we have found most of our equipment through auctions, Craigslist, Iowa State Surplus, and thrift store hunting. All of this has helped us stay within our budget. The additional funding will allow us to add equipment that is currently not in our budget and thus expand our menu. Okay, enough about the money... let's talk about the fun part.
Lockwood Cafe will be opening its doors sometime in June. We have watched this space and the Lockwood brand grow and transform over the last three years. From making locally sourced syrups (which you can find at Morning Bell Coffee Roasters, Wheatsfield Co-op, and FarmGrounds) to having an outdoor coffee and crepe cart for the last two summers, Lockwood Cafe continues to grow and expand. Now, we are ready for what our son would call, the MEGA evolution (he's six and real into Pokèmon), an indoor space with year round, regular, hours!
If you are interested in supporting Lockwood Cafe below are the three ways we are asking for help:
Financial - this is a Kickstarter after all. All funds donated will go directly towards the build out and opening cost.
Volunteer time - in the next month we will finalizing much of the build out and there is plenty to do. If you would like to volunteer, please email email@example.com and we will send you a survey so we can connect you with the volunteer activities and times that work best for you.
Art - if you have a piece of art that you have made and would like to add it to our gala event please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a drop off time. All art donations will be hung in the gallery space adjacent to the cafe for the Lockwood Gala. Everyone that comes to the gala will have an option to take home art. The work will not be auctioned as part of the fundraising campaign, rather a means of gifting art to the community. If you have further questions about how the art will be gifted, please email us and we can elaborate.
So that's the gist. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to email. Also, if you've read this far, thank you! We have been blown away by how amazing our community is and are so thankful to have landed in Ames!
Risks and challenges
With any new business there are risks; and with a new restaurants there seem to be plenty of them. We have carefully considered the risks before jumping into this venture and have grown our business from producing syrups, to a seasonal outdoor coffee and crepes cart, to the current phase--a brick and mortar cafe. We have taken on some debt but have made choices that has kept our debt as low as possible. Our goal is to be a debt free business in three years. When we are debt free we will in turn be able to invest more in our staff and community.
Our primary challenge will likely be location as we are a destination cafe not situated in a business district. However, we have designed the cafe to run on a small staff and already have a devoted following from the outdoor cafe in the same location. I am sure there are unknown risks and challenges that will arise, however I am confident that we have the support and resources to be successful.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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