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Welton Street Café, pillar of Five Points neighborhood, hopes to find money to keep business alive

Welton Street Café is moving from its current location after 22 years because of rent and lease disputes. They have a new spot but need help to make it functional.

DENVER — The GoFundMe was a last resort. 

Chereka Dickerson and her sisters poured over grant and loan applications trying to raise the money they need to save Welton Street Café, but the denials finally became too much. 

"We're just trying to stay alive. We're not trying to get rich here people, we're just trying to survive," Dickerson said. 

Her family's business has been around for 36 years since her mother and father opened the first iteration in the '80s. They've been at their current spot in Five Points, on Welton Street, for two decades. 

"To me, it was always kind of like a second home. We grew up in this area, went to school in this area and always had a business in this area, so to see the changes, especially to see the loss of a lot of Black businesses, has been devastating," she said. 

To realize they might be the next one not to make it is disheartening, she said. 

Credit: Bryan Wendland

The sisters will need to move their business in March. Rent has skyrocketed in their neighborhood, and they couldn't come to a new lease agreement with their building's owner. 

They've got a new location on Welton secured, but it's going to cost a good deal of money to build out and make it work.

"We're just trying to find something to at least get us started. We already have an architect team, a design team ready to go, but you know those permits cost thousands of dollars," Dickerson said.

Then, add the inflating prices for materials, not to mention the supply chain issues Dickerson and her sisters are sure they'll run into, and the price tag to start gets even heftier. 

Dickerson waited to start the GoFundMe until she couldn't wait any longer.

"When I put the post up about our GoFundMe on Saturday -- woo, that was hard, it was hard. I called my sister and I was just like, 'I'm sad.' And she's like, 'I'm sad, too.' And we just sat on the phone crying," Dickerson said. "She was 12-years-old when we moved here back in 1999. I was 17."

Since the fundraiser went online, Welton Street Café has raised thousands of dollars. Dickerson said she's getting help elsewhere, too. 

People are offering to help with fundraisers and pointing her to grants and funding opportunities she hadn't heard of be fore. 

But the clock is ticking, and Dickerson said she'll take all the help she can get.

"Five Points is rich with Black history, and that's what we are," Dickerson said. "The prospect of not being here in Five Points is just heartbreaking, not only to us, but to many of our customers, many of our supporters."

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