Last week we reported that Deep Ellum's It's A Grind Coffee House would close immediately. A few Twitter users reacted, half disappointed and half not surprised. I called several times to talk to the owners but manager Carlos Guerrero said an official communication would be released in a few weeks. Owner Serena Connelly then posted the following message to the Coffee Shops Facebook page:
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the closing of It's A Grind Coffee House and Demeter Project. For the past three years, Demeter Project has worked to impact our community by paying a living wage and providing health care benefits to the employees at It's A Grind Coffee House, in order to address issues of poverty, discrimination, and profit-only focus in today's business culture. While we have seen successful outcomes and significant change in the lives of our employees and in the community building that has taken place, the overall project has not proven to be feasible financially.
There is sadness in closing the Demeter Project, but we are optimistic about the growing movement of social enterprises in North Texas. We remain hopeful about the impact that creative, innovative entrepreneurs can have on our community.
Thank you to everyone who supported this experiment in thought, word and deed!
"Experiment" is an interesting word to use for a coffee shop. But certainly It's A Grind was more than a simple place to get your java fix. We detailed the shop's mission in a column in 2009. It's a Grind employed asylum seekers, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, ex-convicts, reformed prostitutes, former drug users, and pretty much anyone in dire need of a second chance.
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The cafe was more than a cafe; it was an example of social entrepreneurship, according to Salah Boukadoum, co-founder of Soap Hope, another Dallas-based business focused on social betterment in addition to the bottom line. On his blog, Boukadoum asserts that It's A Grind closed after three years because it has not achieved financial sustainability, but Connelly's Facebook post doesn't confirm that.