BY ROY HARRYMAN
This article originally appeared in The Kansas City Star.
It’s not just the caffeine that revives spirits at The Q Brew Coffee Shop at 1744 Quindaro Blvd.
The business has become a hub for people interested in reviving the Quindaro neighborhood.
Community organizer Richard Mabion is using the café as a staging ground to promote pride in urban Kansas City, Kan.
The business hosted an art show, featuring the work of local talent Robert Reed, in August.
“It was a blast,” Mabion said. “Now there is a sense of pride about having these shows and having a night out.”
A second gathering is set for Oct. 19, from 5-8 p.m. It will feature the archives of local historian Chester Owens, plus his comments. Mabion said he would like to see the show expand and involve several businesses.
A Kansas City, Kan., native and art dealer, Mabion moved into the Quindaro area two years ago. He felt the media’s portrayal of the neighborhood was negative.
“You don’t really hear about a lot of exciting, positive things coming out of Quindaro,” he said. “I felt our young children need to see things that make them feel good about who they are.”
The result is the fledgling Quindaro Art Show. Mabion said the goal is to help the community take pride in its resources and talents.
“I felt this was where God wanted me to be,” he said. “As a community organizer from the 50s and 60s, we don’t sit by and let things crumble all around you.”
Mabion is also sponsoring a community-oriented conference featuring author David Korten in November. A group meets weekly at The Q Brew to plan the event.
Andy Ammons and Rosemary Sheppard opened the business in March. Ammons, who owns the building, said the idea was to provide a service that wasn’t available in the neighborhood.
He has a background in the entertainment and restaurant business.
“I like to see people have a good time,” Ammons said.
Despite media portrayals to the contrary, he said the neighborhood is peaceful.
“I’ve got tables sitting outside where people can listen to music,” Ammons said. “There are little kids and mothers walking up and down the street.”
He said there are no unusual challenges to running a business on Quindaro.
“It’s got a bad reputation and we are trying to change that,” he said. “Quindaro has such a rich history. We’re trying to get people to come to the area and get a taste of that history.”
Ammons said his business is growing slowly and that the coffee shop has developed its own clientele. These range from senior citizens playing checkers to others reading books or watching television.
Another art show supporter is longtime local merchant Gary Wilson, who works closely with Mabion.
“I’m in 100 percent support of what he’s trying to do and I’m trying to provide whatever I can to get it going,” said Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Pizza & Grill, 1801 Quindaro Blvd.
“It gives people an awareness and makes them feel good about the community they’re in. Don’t move. Improve.”