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Rebirth on Welton

Welton Street Cafe and the Renaissance of Community Spaces

Article by Kailey Beuerlein

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

In the heart of the Five Points community, a culinary phoenix is set to rise from the ashes. Welton Street Cafe, a beloved restaurant and community hub, is reopening its doors after a two-year closure. Once a cornerstone of the neighborhood, this iconic restaurant is not merely returning, but resurrecting with it an era of memories, flavors and community spirit. Moving into a new location after leaving its home of 22 years comes with mixed emotions, but one thing is for sure: the restaurant’s reopening is breathing new energy into the streets that have long yearned for the comforting embrace of Welton Street Cafe. 

Fathima Dickerson, who co-owns and runs the soul-food restaurant with her family, has continuously referred to Welton Street Cafe as a “third space”. “Places that are needed to function properly in life,” Fathima says. A third place is a space outside of the workplace and home, where you can just be. We know that these places are important, but Fathima explains that Welton Street has taught her why they’re important. 

“Everyone needs a place where you can come in, let your hair down, loosen your tie and take off the mask that we all wear in everyday life,” says Fathima. “Welton Street is that. It feeds the mind, body and soul.” 

For 25 years, Welton Street Cafe has been a pillar in the Five Points community. Standing as the oldest black-owned restaurant in Denver, it has withstood the test of time thanks to its down-home roots and impressively loyal customer base. Fathima describes it as an anchor for the Welton Street corridor, as they have watched the environment change around them throughout the years. With its undeniable sense of warmth and inclusion, the restaurant and family have been a consistent and grounding presence in the neighborhood.

Welton Street Cafe has created a legacy woven with generations of passion. One of nine children, Fathima and her two sisters Cenya and Chereka, brother Fathim and parents Flynn and Ms. Mona, bring new meaning to “family owned and operated”. “My parents have a lot of kids,” says Fathima. “When you have a lot of kids, you open a restaurant.” 

The restaurant is an embodiment of shared dreams and collective effort. The family’s pride in their establishment extends beyond their confidence in the food but rather shows their unwavering commitment to fostering a welcoming haven for the community they cherish. People don’t just come to eat but to be a part of a community, for the community. 

“We are a family and we service families. We feed families,” Fathima says. “In a world that’s changing, we feed every generation, every walk of life, people of every socio-economic status and background. It’s a beautiful thing.” 

Designing this new space has not come without its plethora of challenges, but Fathima speaks from her desire to create something special for the Black community, and that speaks to the vibrancy of the Black experience. 

The space will be bright, lively and open; similar to the energy in which Fathima and her family exude. It’s updated, larger than the previous and will lack clutter. In every curated detail, Welton Street Cafe emerges as a testament to the transformative power of community—centered spaces, embracing diversity and fostering pride for all who enter its doors, old and new faces alike. 

“The Black community deserves beautiful spaces,” Fathima says. “We don’t have a lot of newer spaces where we can celebrate life, and we want to make sure that we can offer that to people.”

The reopening of Welton Street Cafe will no doubt make the past two years of closure worth it for Fathima, her family and its loyal and longing customers. “Every day I wake up and feel like I’m running full speed. We are, and have been, fighting for our lives,” Fathima says. But the sound of excitement and fulfillment in her voice tells me that this is just the beginning of a new and even better chapter for the restaurant and its patrons.

“I really can’t wait,” says Fathima. “Because this is my favorite place on earth.”