Africa’s Lake Chad feeds 30 million in the four countries it borders. Felix Ngoussou, owner of the Lake Chad Café on Jackson and 17th, hopes to feed his neighbors, too.
As the lake shrinks due to climate change. Ngoussou said he also wants to remind Seattle of the social implications environmental change can cause. He also wants his new cafe to play a connective role in the Jackson-area community.
“My coffee shop has another objective,” Ngoussou said, “I want to open a community place where all these small businesses around can come and meet… Now everyone is coming here.”
Most mornings the second room of the coffee shop has a full table of employees from local businesses having staff meetings, Ngoussou said.
The cafe owner says the venue also draws the neighborhood with live music most Thursdays, a DJ every Saturday and an open mic every Friday. Ngoussou just signed a relationship with a neighborhood bakery and is in the process of securing a liquor license. Beer and wine are already on the menu.
Ngoussou first moved to the Central District neighborhood in 2005. He grew up in Chad and left when he was 18 to go to university in Niger. A Masters in Aerospace brought Ngoussou to Boeing but, eventually, he said he decided he wanted to open up a coffee shop that would double as a community space.
When Ngoussou found the space at 17th and Jackson, the landlord discouraged his idea since the area does not get a considerable amount of foot traffic. But with the streetcar coming soon and his knowledge of the neighborhood, Ngoussou signed a five year lease for the space.
Ngoussou originally called his cafe El Obrero — Spanish for “worker” and sometimes the name of Latino staffing agencies. After numerous people stopped in thinking the cafe would help them find work, Ngoussou said he decided to make the change.
He’s still interested in helping workers, however.
“I saw a need,” says Ngoussou, “we can have a place where people can meet… Try to work together and develop something out of their free time”
Lake Chad Cafe is located at 1712 S. Jackson St. You can learn more at seattleplaza.com.