Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 01/18/2014 2:15 PM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 01/18/2014 4:21 PM | Updates
The Mondragon cafe and bookstore, Winnipeg’s anarchist icon, will close in one week, ending an 18-year run of lefty politics, co-operative management and southern fried tofu.
"We’ve had a rough year, a rough couple of years, financially," said Cora Wiens, one of Mondragon’s remaining workers. "I think a lot of people are really sad about it and are now realizing what this place has meant."
A series of slow changes conspired against the Exchange District institution. Everyday costs increased, foot traffic declined and competition from new restaurants and coffee shops in the area is on the rise. Mondragon’s alternative bookstore, which traditionally bolstered the cafe’s bottom line, also saw shrinking sales, as bookstores across the continent have.
And where once the co-op had a dozen members to share the work, now only five remain. The five have been talking seriously about closing all month, and Jan. 26 will be the business's last day.
This week, all books will be 66 per cent off.
Mondragon was Winnipeg’s best-known non-hierarchical collective, where staff were equal, did all the jobs and no one was the boss.
Asked if the worker-run model contributed to the venue’s demise, staff said no.
"Eighteen years is a long time for a business," said Merrill Grant, one of the five remaining members.
"For any restaurant, no matter how it’s run," added Weins.
Mondragon is key among several businesses and activist groups, such as Natural Cycle and the Boreal Forest Network, that share space in the historic building known as the Albert St. Autonomous Zone Co-op. It’s not clear yet how the restaurant’s closure will affect the co-op’s ability to sustain itself, or who might take over the space.
Mondragon’s remaining members hope to have pop-up events at other venues throughout the year, featuring politics and some of the café’s best-known dishes, such as the southern fried tofu.
Updated on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 4:21 PM CST: adds new photos
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
City pool reopened
Fifteen Manitoba First Nations haven't disclosed their financial documents
Woman gets two-year jail term for running over man with his own truck
Cabinet rebel Theresa Oswald says she's considering an NDP leadership run
City's planning, property and development chief plans to retire
Winnipeg's first battery-powered electric bus goes into service tomorrow
Siloam Mission opens podiatry room to help homeless with foot care
Funds for Guay Park riverbank project going to balance city's books instead
City committee gives three fire halls historic designations
News and talk radio still at the top of Winnipeg radio ratings
Liquor store workers start voting today on possible strike before Christmas
Bowman among local celebrities to appear in RWB's Nutcracker
'Bannock Lady' Guiboche among human rights awards recipients
Zoo has faults, but it's not all bad
Safety officers to replace First Nation band constables
High court upholds sentence for killings
Boy's honesty warms Winnipeggers' hearts
Warmer weather -- and snow -- on the way
MD sees charges dropped
Popular calendar whets interest in weather
'Fun party for two' ends in tragedy
Hut stuff: This year's winning entries stretch the imagination
Fire hits St. Norbert homes
Flap over leadership-vote plans
Teen catches break on sentencing bid