The New Riverside Cafe
The New Riverside Cafe was a coffeehouse and vegetarian restaurant located near the University of Minnesota in the West-Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1970 to 1997. It became a center for political and social movements around revolutionary politics.
The New Riverside Cafe was founded by Episcopal priest Father William "Bill" Teska. It was conceived in response to what Teska believed were attempts to control the neighborhood's emerging post-1960's counter-culture development by government and corporate interests, and was founded with the intent of making the cafe a truly independent center for the surrounding community, free from "establishment" meddling. The cafe was created as a business, but within a short time it did away with the hierarchical business structure and opted for a collective style of management. The result of this business model meant that starting in 1972, cafe revenue paid for all living expenses for members, including paying for members rent and food. In the first few years of the cafe, the majority of members were housed in one of three collectively owned houses in the West-Bank neighborhood. In order to provide a supplemental income for the establishment, the New Riverside Cafe also had several side businesses such as a moving company, a vegetarian catering company, and an auto repair business.
During the 1970s, the collective was heavily focused on social and political activism. In 1975 and 1976, with the plans for development of the Cedar-Riverside apartment buildings, the building that housed the cafe was set to be demolished. In reaction to this, the members of the collective occupied the building in order to fight its planned demolition. The members of the collective went to court with the developers and eventually were allowed to stay when the owners sold the building.
Success and eventual decline
In the 1980s, the political activities of the cafe slowed while emphasis was put more on the economic viability of the collective. The cafe was remodeled in 1985, which led to an increase in customers and revenue. At the same time the collective sold vegetarian products to health food stores and co-ops in the Twin Cities area.
In the 1990s the New Riverside Cafe faced a number of debt problems from which it could not recover. Facing a debt of around $35,000, the cafe closed its doors in 1997.
- New Riverside Cafe digi-tour
- New Riverside Cafe article from the Minneapolis Tribune, 26 Nov 1977
- New Riv was a window on our times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 20 May 1977
- Cafe loses legal fight, Minneapolis Star, 15 Feb 1978
- Cafes demonstrate a cooperative way to cook, Minneapolis Tribune, 18 Dec 1980