Saturday, April 21, 2012

East Harlem Cafe Asks Neighborhood to Help it Grow

East Harlem Cafe Asks Neighborhood to Help it Grow Updated April 19, 2012 1:54pm

Owner Michelle Cruz in the East Harlem Cafe on April 18, 2012. Cruz is asking patrons and supporters to help her raise $10,000 to provide additional healthy food options. (DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg)

HARLEM — Since it opened in 2008, Michelle Cruz's East Harlem Cafe has been more than a coffee shop.

On any given day, you can find an open mic, a charity fundraiser or an event to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in conjunction with The Mt. Sinai Hospital at the eatery on 104th Street and Lexington Avenue.

"The feedback from our customers is how this place changes who they are and who they talk to," said Cruz. "We'd like to think we are a thread that pulls the community together."

That's why Cruz decided to ask patrons and supporters to help fund $10,000 worth of improvements necessary to help keep the cafe financially healthy and simultaneously add to the health of the neighborhood.

Cruz is asking supporters and patrons to donate money to fund a new display case that will allow her to offer to-go salads and yogurts, as well as diabetic-friendly foods. She also wants a juicer to serve healthy drinks such as carrot juice.

With a larger menu, the cafe can stay open later to support community events.

And Cruz wants to raise the money in just 30 days. That works out to a little over $333 per day.

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