South Side Cafe and All About Brownies

With the advent of COVID-19, in March 2020 our world changed. It kept changing. And 2 and 1/2 years it is STILL changing.

At Living Word, we have rebooted most of what we were doing before COVID-19 hit our nation.

Some things we stopped doing.
Some things we were doing have been redesigned.
We started doing new things.

And, there are always new things God is inviting his people to embrace (Isaiah 42:9; 43:18-19). Jesus is always at work and Jesus is the way God moves his church into new things (John 5:17; 4:34).

That is exciting!  

But it also takes eyes to see where God is at work, what God is doing, and how God is doing it, which is why Paul prays that the eyes of the heart may be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18) and Jesus challenges those who have eyes, but apparently are not seeing (Matthew 13:13-14; Luke 10:23-24).

At Living Word, we are always asking Jesus to give us eyes that see the new work he is doing and to join in. That is the  wonderful idea that Henry Blackaby made popular with his book Experiencing God. Don't do your thing and ask God to bless it. Find out what God is blessing and do that!
While we have rebooted and redesigned almost everything that was going on before COVID-19, one of the last remaining challenges was what to do with our South Side Cafe.

The South Side Cafe was part of my vision when we were planning our church expansion. I wanted us to be able to offer quality food service.

First, for our congregation. 
This building was used all the time. Every day and most nights of the week, people were ON SITE. LifeGroups, mid-size communities, special events, and more--the church was constantly hopping with activity. And if we could serve food for our people, that would just enhance our experience of community and life together.

So the idea of South Side Cafe was born. At the foundation, it would be a CAFE, offering quality coffee and breakfast. Ideally, we would also be open for lunch and evening meals.

Second, for our community.
Even more ideal would be a growing attraction of the surrounding community to the South Side Cafe as a wonderful place to enjoy time with friends.

We knew the location was NOT ideal, but we felt with time and investment, and as word of mouth spread, the Cafe would become self-sustaining as more and more people from the community would use it.
But there was a third focus we had. We wanted Living Word to become a community center. We have been given an outstanding facility and we use it hard as a church. But how could we serve the community with our building?

Third, as a conference center.
In many ways, Living Word is almost a unique facility with its size, rooms, and technology. We wanted to use our facility to serve the needs of other organizations in the community, and in doing so, get people who normally do not visit a church to have a "non-church" and positive experience as their organizations used our facility.

As a conference center, it would be a first step for us to connect with many people in our community.

We knew that having quality food available was ESSENTIAL for us to  be a conference center. Every conference, seminar, and workshop event needs food. If there is no food, the site is not going to be very useful. Thus, the South Side Cafe.

And, as we would steadily grow this STRATEGY, the South Side Cafe would definitely become self-sustaining, and a blessing.

All of that hit PAUSE with COVID-19 and our changing social gathering patterns.

I don't have time to go into all the complications of food service post-COVID-19.  You know them as well as I do.

The restaurant industry has struggled and will continue to struggle. It struggles finding help. It struggles finding chefs and cooks and servers. It struggles with keeping prices affordable. It struggles with fewer customers. It struggles to be financially solvent.

We simply could not figure those issues out with the South Side Cafe, without continuing to invest a lot of finances to sustain the Cafe.

So we hit the PAUSE button and considered options, which were few and far between, and none ever seemed to materialize.

The PAUSE button was gathering cobwebs!

But a few of our leadership team (board and staff) kept looking.

We are UNPAUSING the Pause button.

One of the options we kept looking for was to see if an outside group would find the South Side Cafe kitchen and seating space useful. We were hitting dead ends on that!


Over the last number of months, we have had conversations with All About Brownies. You can check out their website HERE. They are very popular and have a growing business with their product.

We will have a 3-month trial program for both of us to see if our facilities will be a good fit.

And one VERY EXCITING thing is the South Side Cafe will now be open Sunday mornings, so you can purchase food and drink, and sit and enjoy conversation with friends.

All About Brownies Opens on
Sunday, October 9.

We look forward to the next 3 months of exploring this option.

Be sure to stop by the South Side Cafe and check out All About Brownies--and find out why their fan base is growing.

Blessings and Grace,
Pastor Brian