by Nancy Stiles
After a week of community building, backlash and overwhelming support, Local Harvest Cafe & Grocery (3137 Morganford Road; 314-772-8815) has reached its $120,000 fundraising goal almost a week before the February 7 deadline. To the delight of many, the cafe and locally sourced grocery will remain open.
$100,000 was reached Friday, just four days after Local Harvest's initial call for support. Fundraising was aided by several other local businesses, including 4 Hands Brewery, Billy Goat Chip Company, Blank Space, Green Dining Alliance and Lemmons. There was some concern though -- community members also asked why they should give what they saw as a handout to a business that had mishandled its finances.
But it seems that enough people agreed with local author Curtis Sittenfeld, who made the case for Local Harvest as an important community institution. "I think that Local Harvest is definitely a force for good in St. Louis. If it's something that people value having in the community, and they feel like they can make a contribution to keeping it afloat, why not?" she told us.
As Local Harvest announced earlier this week, about 70 percent of the funds will be used to pay off debts and taxes. Money became an issue after the Kirkwood location closed last year after just ten months in business; co-owners Patrick Horine and Maddie Earnest haven't been able to stabilize the business since.
The money will also be used to re-stock the grocery, which sells local, non-GMO products. "After we have stabilized things, we will continue our work to bring an equity partner into the business to further boost our organization and help us have the one thing we have always lacked: operating capital," Horine and Earnest explained on Facebook. They also hope the new concept at the Tower Grove Cafe will help -- you can check it out here.