One of the three core values at Fika Coffee, is community. It's an appropriate one, right? After all, we are a coffee shop. Even more, one that aspires to bring people together in a manner that could be considered community driven. Still, there are certain challenges to this desire to build community through business; like to begin with, community members, and where to find them.
Lutsen, the town Fika Coffee calls home, has only 190 residents as of the last census. As most of our customers know already, we are forced to rely quite heavily on out of town visitors for our in-store traffic. That being said, there are certain times of year when even the number of visitors slows to a trickle (a day with only twenty-three transaction in late November or early December is not uncommon.) So what does that mean... that we give up on our efforts to develop community in the shop during the slow winter season, to instead settle into a state of hibernation? Not at all. We are far more persistent than that. It means that rather than breadth, we focus on depth - we get to know people a little more intimately.
So, this November, from a concept inspired by Twenty Below Coffee Co. out of Fargo ND; Fika decided to try out a community lunch. What community lunch entails is an opportunity for the Fika staff to close the shop, and to sit and enjoy the cafe space with any community members, or passerby's, who want to come sit and share in the revelry of lunch with us. Fika provides the bread, soup, and of course coffee to share, all complimentary. What we ask is that you sit and enjoy it with us, so we can get to know more about you, and you us.
This weekly lunch has brought many Lutsenites (not luddites, although perhaps...some of us) to the cafe. Some of them residents we have never met, or seldom seen. It has also allowed us to gain new perspective of, and with, the regulars. The regulars whom we so commonly only interact with from opposite sides of a big concrete counter. And this is in big part what we are after. We want to meet all 190 of you Lutsenites, and we want to get to know more of you, more thoroughly. It isn't just our livelihood which depends on it, but far more importantly than that, the quality of our livelihood.
The community building potential of this event doesn't just live in the shop though. This event has engaged the wonderful baker from Grand Marais, Hanna Crosby. She bakes her traditional sourdough loafs, and they pair excellently with the soup. The soup being provided by Leticia Novais, a Lutsenite and Fika employee, with secret skills and creativity to prepare a different soup each Wednesday morning; dropped off in a crock already hot and ready to go for the noon gathering.
So far, after the first month and half of experimenting with this gathering, we are pleasantly inclined to continue. And so we intend to see it through the entire winter.
It is also noteworthy to say that the event is being funded by Fika's Tip Jar Projects. (If you are not familiar with our tip jar projects, check out some of our past blog posts on what they are all about). Because of the spare change or dollars of people such as yourself, dear reader, we thank you, and all of our customers for what may seem like a trivial deposit of loose change into the tip jar - it's not. It never is. Every little bit we give carries great weight.
So please, if you are in Lutsen on a Wednesday this winter, stop in from noon to one, and join us for soup, bread, conversation, and oh yeah...coffee - just don't ask us to make you a latte! And if this little community lunch gets so popular our little cafe can't suit it, or the soup runs out - well that will be a happy problem for us to address.