FoCo Cafe’s first annual Spring Soiree serves, supports community

Lyra Wiley


People stand on stage singing music
Fort Collins community members attend FoCo Cafe’s first annual Spring Soiree fundraiser event held in Everyday Joe’s Coffee House Apr. 12. FoCo Cafe is located in Old Town with a mission to provide nutritious and delicious meals to the people of Fort Collins regardless of their ability to pay while using mostly local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

FoCo Cafes’ first annual Spring Soiree fundraiser presented food and drinks from a variety of different local suppliers, further celebrating their mission of serving and supporting the community.


Doing good for those in the community was the central theme of the night, and the spirit of giving back was not only in the air but on the walls. Everyday Joe’s Coffee House, which hosted the event Friday, believes in serving and benefiting the neighborhood through more than just their coffee.

“The fundraising goes towards the overall mission of the FoCo Cafe,” said Mallory Garneau, executive director of FoCo Cafe. “FoCo Cafe is northern Colorado’s first and only non-profit, donation-based restaurant, so there are no set prices- you don’t even have to have money.”

Relying on volunteers as a coffee shop, an art gallery and a meeting place for Timberline Old Town Church, Everyday Joe’s welcomes everyone.  

“The coffee house and the coffee bar are entirely volunteer-based,” said Mylene Laughlin, a volunteer at the coffee house. “A lot of times, it’s people who go to the church and want to have a way of giving back to it. A lot of times, it’s people who like good coffee, and that’s something that Everyday Joe’s stands by — good coffee and the importance of hospitality. A cup of coffee and a genuine conversation. A lot of times, it’s volunteers just wanting to be hospitable.”

Emphasizing the power in community, the fundraising event showcased local restaurants like The Waffle Lab, The Regional, Ginger and Baker, Walrus Ice CreamThe Still Whiskey Steaks, Stuft and The Welsh Rabbit. Beverages were provided by Odell, Wunder Juice and Clean Food, Life’s a Buch and Wilbur’s Total Beverages. Providing gypsy swing and jazz sounds, French Toast Quartet, a local band, was the entertainment for the night. 

Serving green chile cheddar hand pies and sour cherry hand pies, Ginger and Baker celebrated history, creativity, community and pie.

“We spend a lot of time donating food to FoCo Cafe and we’re working with them to do the ‘Kids Feeding Kids’ program this summer,” said Rachel Brickel, the head baker at Ginger and Baker. “A lot of our pastries and bread that don’t get sold, we donate to them and they feed the community at the FoCo Cafe.”

…that’s something that Everyday Joe’s stands by – good coffee and the importance of hospitality. A cup of coffee and a genuine conversation. A lot of times, it’s volunteers just wanting to be hospitable.”-Mylene Laughlin, volunteer at Everyday Joe’s Coffee House.

In addition to hosting the “Kids Feeding Kids Summer Breakfast Program” that provides families and children with healthy breakfasts over the summer, FoCo Cafe will also host the “Bikes, Brews and Blockbusters” fundraiser in August. Garneau details the event as a hyper-local festival that, much like the Soiree, will showcase the “awesome” things the Fort Collins community has to offer.  

“This is a celebration of community, food and togetherness,” Garneau said. “We wanted it to be available to everyone — so the tickets are a lot cheaper than they could be — but we also offered the opportunity for people to buy tickets for community members that aren’t able to buy tickets themselves.” 

The concept of paying it forward is deeply ingrained in the cafe’s belief system. When eating at the restaurant, patrons can pay what they can, pay it forward or volunteer for their meals. Being a donation-based restaurant, FoCo Cafe relies heavily on support from its community.


Janie Stein and Martin Bates are sustaining members of the cafe and donate monthly to ensure that it can continue serving the community.

“Mainly what we’ve been doing is giving small, monthly donations so they can rely on a certain amount to keep going because we believe in paying it forward,” Stein said. “We can’t do a lot, but if everybody does a little, then that helps, you know? It supports something good in the community.”

In addition to providing food, FoCo Cafe also offers the Free Outdoor Library, which gives individuals access to books; The Giving Tree, which gives the community resources like baby items, snacks, dog food and writing supplies; the Hydration Station, which was installed to ensure access to clean water; and The Kindness Cupboard, which provides non-perishable food items to those who may need them.

“When we find something good like this that allows people who have a little more to give a little more, it allows people who don’t have so much to still be able to get what they need,” Stein said. “That’s right down our alley, so we’re really happy to be able to support FoCo Cafe.”

Lyra Wiley can be reached at or on Twitter @lyra_wiley.