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3 Local Black-Owned Businesses to Support Year-Round

I am a Black, first generation Somali-American, and Minnesota native, and I’m proud to call the Twin Cities my home. Growing up here has taught me firsthand the power of community and I’ve seen how people can come together through art, activism, and entrepreneurship. That is why for Black History Month this year, I wanted to highlight three local Black-owned businesses that share Peace Coffee’s values of individuality and community in the Twin Cities and are cornerstones to many. 

Sometimes a place of business goes the extra mile and transcends just simply being a business. They become gathering places, safe spaces, and hubs. I think Du Nord Social Spirits, Lutunji’s Palate, and 36th Lyn Refuel Station are three spots that meet that mark and they all serve our coffee (lucky us!).

Du Nord Social Spirits

Du Nord opened in 2013 and was the first Black-owned distillery in the United States, a fact so surprising to me that I Googled it three times just now. Founder Chris Montana, formerly a successful lawyer, started his business out of a love of his craft. After a self-described messy start where he mostly lived at the distillery for a couple of years, Du Nord finally found their footing.

But running a business is never smooth sailing and Du Nord is no exception. When the pandemic hit in 2020 they quickly pivoted from making spirits to producing hand sanitizer. And following the murder of George Floyd they created the Du Nord Foundation which addresses racial inequities in the Twin Cities —all with an eye toward economic justice.

Their commitment to reinvesting in their community is massively important to Peace Coffee and me personally having been born in Minneapolis. And even though I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve been told their products are awesome, especially the Cafe Frieda which uses one of my favorite coffees, our Yeti Cold Brew, as its base!

Photo credit: Twin Cities Business Magazine

Lutunji’s Palate

Another local business that embodies Black excellence is the incredible Lutunji’s Palate. Peach cobbler in hand, Lutunji Abram was sharing a vision of a school she developed with her organization for teen parents with Pastor Jeff Cowmeadow. After tasting her dessert and remarking that she should be selling them, the idea for Lutunji’s Palate was born. The pastor offered her a commercial kitchen and the support she needed to get her dream off the ground, and the rest is Black History.

Photo Credit: Eater Twin Cities

Located in the heart of Minneapolis, Abrems’ gourmet desserts are crafted with love and with the community in mind. Lutunji never lost sight of her vision to help young people who have fallen on hard times when she started her bakery. She employs folks returning back to society after incarceration, offering them a chance to find community and learn skills to aid in their transition into the world.

Her organization–born from that meeting with the legendary peach cobbler–Voices for Effective Change is still active today and offers services to the community from transportation to doctor’s appointments and practice job interviews, to help with college applications and resources to connect those in need to emergency food programs.

36th Lyn Refuel Station

When it comes to community-minded business, nobody does it quite like 36th Lyn Refuel Station. The independently-owned innovative convenience store has called Minneapolis home for over 10 years and specializes in elevating the convenience store experience with locally sourced, higher quality products at an affordable price. 

Their commitment to quality is unending. Along with their freshly brewed specialty coffee, you can even find fresh fruit, local eggs, and organic and fair trade snacks, an unfortunate rarity in the convenience store world, especially in the Cities. Lonnie McQuirter, owner of the South Minneapolis gas station since taking over after his father fell ill, goes above and beyond in every sense.

36 Lyn Refuel Station shows a constant desire to stay ahead of the curve, making them the first gas station in the metro to have electric car charging stations and one of the first DC charging stations in Minnesota altogether. They also have been committed to giving back, hosting neighborhood events, employing BIPOC staff, and hiring BIPOC businesses for store maintenance and improvements. 

Photo Credit: Star Tribune

As Black History Month comes to a close, I think it’s important to remember that supporting Black-owned businesses is a year-round commitment. And even more importantly, we can’t limit conversations around racial justice and Black empowerment to a single month of the year. Du Nord Social Spirits, Lutunji’s Palate, and 36th Lyn Refuel Station are just three examples of the many Black-owned businesses that are driving change and uplifting our community. As we head into the rest of 2023, let’s continue to honor the legacy of Black excellence, community, and entrepreneurship by supporting these Black-owned businesses and the many others in the Twin Cities in a meaningful and sustained way throughout the year.

Photo of Amir Adan

Published by Amir Adan on February 24, 2023.

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