Golden Thyme Cafe sold to Rondo Land Trust for pop-up, incubator space with food vendors

Rondo CLT
April 29, 2024
Rondo staff with the Liberated Land Trust Tour delegation
Rondo staff with the Liberated Land Trust Tour delegation

Pioneer Press, Sept 8, 2023

Mychael and Stephanie Wright, founders of the Selby Avenue Jazz Fest, recently announced they were selling the longstanding Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe on Selby Avenue. They declined at the time to disclose who the buyer was.

The secret’s now out. The Wrights this week confirmed they are parting with Golden Thyme after 24 years on Selby Avenue, but the coffee shop — a beehive of Black culture and community activity — is expected to continue in the hands of the Rondo Community Land Trust. The goal is to expand the existing coffee shop into “Golden Thyme Presents,” a pop-up and incubator space driven by short- and long-term leases with restaurateurs and food vendors of color.

Sammy McDowell, proprietor of Avenue Eatery, which has run cafes and catering businesses in both North and Northeast Minneapolis, plans to be among the first temporary occupants on Oct. 1.

The Wrights “were ready to retire and didn’t have a succession plan,” said E. Coco, deputy director of the land trust. “For us, it’s such a cultural gem, we couldn’t not step in to preserve it, and create a plan to maintain the asset in community. On evenings and weekends, we already have pop-ups lined up that we’ll be discussing in the next several weeks.”

Rondo CLT plans to get the 934 Selby Ave. property into the hands of temporary proprietors while at the same time working on another Rondo CLT-owned property down the street in a mixed-use senior housing and commercial building at 856 Selby Ave., where they’ll build out an incubator coffee shop space with a smaller menu. That will be a “multi-stakeholder co-op,” with worker-owners and consumer-members, similar to a grocery co-op, Coco said.

A coffee shop, in the hands of a land trust?

In 2018, the Selby Avenue-based land trust — the first land trust in the state — became the first land trust in the state to apply the same model it uses to support community ownership of real estate to commercial spaces when it opened the Selby-Milton-Victoria project, a mixed-use senior affordable housing development where Golden Thyme is currently located.

Land trust officials said construction of Interstate 94 in the 1960s uprooted a middle class Black community, which their efforts aim to restore.

“When I was a young girl, Rondo was a place of Black innovation, abundance and joy — and I am fiercely committed to rebuilding the more than 300 businesses and 700 homes that were taken from our families,” said Mikeya Griffin, executive director of the Rondo Community Land Trust, in a written statement. “With the leadership of people like Mychael and Stephanie Wright, we’ve made incredible gains along Selby Avenue — but it’s just the beginning.”

Mychael Wright, Griffin and McDowell will deliver remarks and answer questions from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Golden Thyme, 934 Selby Ave.