One Central District landmark is starting to turn into a dining destination. Cafe Avole — the five-year-old Ethiopian coffee shop and roaster in Brighton — plans to expand to the Liberty Bank Building this spring. The new outpost will debut right next to celebrated chef Kristi Brown’s Communion Restaurant and Bar, which opened to much fanfare in fall 2020.
This is a big step for Cafe Avole, and an exciting new addition to the neighborhood. Back in 2016, co-owner Solomon Dubie used funds from a successful Indiegogo campaign to transform the former Rainier Mini Mart in the Brighton neighborhood, after years running a small grocery store espresso cart. The menu focuses on a selection of Ethiopian roasts brewed through traditional methods, as well as snacks such as pastries, ambasha, and ful medames (a fava bean stew).
But beyond the coffee, Dubie, and co-owners Gavin Amos and Getachew Enbiale have looked to become a positive force for the community. They’ve served free food for those in need out of their Rainier Avenue space during the pandemic, supported other area businesses through pop-ups, and partnered with local nonprofits such as Nurturing Roots to address food insecurity.
The new expansion will be part of an important Seattle landmark: the Liberty Bank Building originally housed the first Black-owned bank in the region as a response to racist redlining practices, and the site has now become a hub for Black-owned businesses.
“I’ve been trying to find our identity and Avole’s identity,” Dubie told Community Roots Housing, an affordable housing nonprofit that opened the building in partnership with several other local groups in 2019. “A lot of it has to do with the community and the people that are involved with this.”