Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Anarchist icon serving last meal

But southern-fried tofu won't be gone forever

  • Print
TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Enlarge Image

TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Mondragon café 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 café's bottom line, also saw shrinking sales, like bookstores across the continent.

'We've had a rough year, a rough couple of years, financially. I think a lot of people are really sad about it and are now realizing what this place has meant'

-- Cora Wiens

And where once the co-op had a dozen members to share the work, only five remain. The five had been talking seriously about closing all month, and Jan. 25 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, the 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 Wiens.

Mondragon is key among several business and activist groups, such as Natural Cycle and the Boreal Forest Network, that share space in the historic building known as the Albert Street 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.

The café was known for political lectures, panel discussions and activist events that brought in musicians and writers such as Naomi Klein.

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, including southern-fried tofu.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 19, 2014 A3

Fact Check

Fact Check

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.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Spring fashion trends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google