The incident of two Black-men being arrested at a Starbucks has resulted in outrage, protests and calls for a boycott of the coffee chain.
The controversy has caused some people to seek out alternatives to Starbucks and has sparked interest in Black-owned coffee shops in Philadelphia and around the nation. For some of the city’s Black-owned coffee shops, the interest has led to a slight uptick in business.
Ariell Johnson, the owner of the Philadelphia-based Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, says she has welcomed a few new customers since the Starbucks controversy ensued. The comic book store and coffee shop is located at 2578 Frankford Ave., in Philadelphia’s Kensington section.
“I’ve seen some new faces, so I think that people who weren’t aware of us before, are aware of us now and are venturing out,” she said.
The shop typically receives the bulk of its clientele on the weekends, when customers come by to peruse its comic book selection.
“Over the long term I think we’ll see kind of an uptick in our coffee traffic but we have yet to see people pouring in the door,” Johnson said.
“We do have our regular morning coffee shop traffic but I am anxious to see what this weekend looks like for us.”
When she launched her business in 2015, Johnson was thrust into the limelight for becoming the first Black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast.
Blew MaryWillow Kind, the owner of Franny Lou’s Porch, said she’s experiencing a renewed interest in her coffee shop and bakery from older customers.
“I’m seeing more excitement about Franny’s Lou’s,” Kind said of her East Kensington-based business.
“I think through all of the publicity, awareness is happening.”
She’s heard from people who are planning to visit the café located at 2400 Coral St. The establishment is the namesake of 19th century abolitionist, poet and lecture Frances E.W. Harper and 20th century outspoken civil rights activist Fannie Lou Harper. Menu items are named for activists and activist movements. The café features educational workshops and hosts artists, musicians and community organizations.
Kind opened her business in 2014, to offer a space engaging in community activism and cultural awareness.
“We’re really trying to advocate for the artists as well as the activists,” she said.
When Marc Lamont Hill, an author, social commentator and professor, opened Bobbie’s Coffee and Books in November 2017, his new venture generated much excitement. The coffee shop and bookstore located at 5545 Germantown Ave. is named after his uncle who served in World War II and exposed him to Black publications.
Philadelphia is also home to Little Jimmies Café Bakery House located at 6669 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy. The café owned by Jimmie Reed serves up coffee, homemade baked goods, breakfast and lunch.