Public rallies to keep Cafe Racer afloat
In the more than 10 years Kurt Geissel has owned Cafe Racer, it has become a community gathering place. So the very real possibility that he might be forced to close brings tears.
“It would break my heart,” said Geissel, his voice breaking. “But it seems like the community has stepped forward, which is just awesome.”
On Thursday Geissel agreed, albeit reluctantly, to set up a GoFundMe account to raise the cash he needs to stay afloat. And those who have found refuge here responded. Nearly $17,000 of the $50,000 goal had been raised as of Sunday morning.
“I just can’t believe it,” Geissel said. “It was immediate.”
Geissel wrote on his GoFundMe page that the debt comes from the “refitting and re-permitting of the building combined with the Roosevelt corridor construction” that left the espresso bar in “dire circumstances.”
Four and a half years ago, Cafe Racer was the scene of a horrific shooting. Five people, all of them Geissel knew, were murdered by a mentally ill man. Ian Stawicki turned the gun on himself as Seattle police moved in. The devastation of that day left Geissel with PTSD.
Then came the yearlong installation of new bike lanes on Roosevelt, and his business took a dive.
“The culture of this place is a fabulous success,” he said, wryly. “But financially, not so much.”
He is not alone, he said.
“Sabatee, the place across the street, closed this summer,” he said. “Marcos, I think it’s called up on 70th, just closed. So, it seems like it might be a trend.”
Geissel is hoping to buck that trend. And with the response so far to his Go Fund Me account, it looks like he just might.