By Gabrielle Locke, UW News Lab/Special to CHS
“COVID-19 can be a double-edged sword,” Bridget Johnson, owner of Central Café and Juice Bar, says. On one side, she has seen more professionals who work from home. “We hope that the customers we have gained continue to be loyal,” Johnson said.
Born early in 2020 before the pandemic delivered its hard hit to the Seattle region, Central Cafe’s short life on E Cherry has been an eventful one as its Central District community is also now full of energy and protest.
In these mindful times, Johnson says she makes conscious decisions about supporting local and preserving the environment with every aspect of running her cafe.
After helping her daughter with a project uncovering issues of pollution, Johnson and her family became more aware and thoughtful about how they can contribute to eco-friendly practices. It became important for her to support vendors who have those same values. The packaging all the way down to the business stickers is compostable and biodegradable.
Her passion for creative freedom in the kitchen translates into the menu. She jokes that her process is just like “dinking around trying to find what works and what doesn’t” and shares that, “It’s the best part. I want to find out what our customers want and then create that.” After learning that some locals eat Keto or Vegan diets, she came out with breakfast options to satisfy their dietary needs with cauliflower made sandwich wraps and switches, daily from a meat to vegetarian soup. Johnson also only supports local small businesses by offering their products at her café.
All the vegetables and fruits are fresh and she purchases her bakery goods through local vendor Salmon Berry and the cafe’s furniture was purchased through Habitat for Humanity.
Recently, Johnson began to sell Sweet Blissful Bloom’s flowers on Tuesdays and Sundays. This small business was previously selling its flowers at Pikes Place Market but was displaced, “The flowers are beautiful and last a long time,” Johnson said.
With her community rebuilding from the COVID-19 crisis and stepping forward to lead on reform of policing in Seattle, Johnson is happy that not only minorities are out protesting to addresses the murder to George Floyd. “Cops need better training,” she says. “This is the first time, thank god for the recording, that people have seen it with their own eyes and cannot deny it… No matter what the president says. And if you choose to turn your eye and say that’s ok, you got to address that with God.”
Johnson urges people who are making the efforts now to support Black-owned small businesses to continue to do so. “It’s more than one day, is this going to be your coffee shop? Are you going to be posting on Instagram when you like something from a local shop? What are you going to be doing to help small businesses?,” she asks. “It’s not just minority business — it’s all business.”
Central Café also offers catering and is open:
Sunday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Monday-Tuesday 5:30 AM-3:30 PM
Thursday, Friday 5:30 AM-3:30 PM
Saturday 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM
at 2509 E Cherry. You can learn more at centralcafeseattle.com.
The University of Washington News Lab gives advanced journalism students an opportunity to build a dynamic clip portfolio by reporting for any of 70 client news outlets in the greater Seattle area. CHS is proud to work with young journalists and feature their work. You can learn more here.
HELP KEEP CHS 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' FOR EVERYONE -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.