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A new era for Golden Thyme: Rondo Community Land Trust secures St. Paul staple

A small group gathers on a stage.
Mikeya Griffin (right), the executive director at Rondo Community Land Trust, and Mychael Wright, co-owner of Golden Thyme Coffee and Café, pose with proclamations from the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County at the Selby Avenue JazzFest on Saturday.
Aaliyah Demry | MPR News

A longtime fixture in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood is moving into a new phase.

During Saturday's Selby Avenue JazzFest, the owners of Golden Thyme Coffee and Café announced the location will be transformed into a small business incubator called “Golden Thyme Presents.”

Festival organizer in front of store
Mychael Wright, organizer of the Selby Avenue JazzFest, stands in front of Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe. He hopes to pass on the event to the next generation in the coming years.
Simone Cazares | MPR News file

Mychael and Stephanie Wright have owned the café for almost 25 years. Nearing retirement, the family planned to put the café on the market. Then the Rondo Community Land Trust approached the Wrights with the idea of buying the café.

“We want to ensure that Golden Thyme stays and remains a community asset that is stewardshiped and ran by people of color, black people, black entrepreneurs, black restaurateurs,” said Mikeya Griffin, the executive director at Rondo Community Land Trust.

Griffin said the space will serve as a platform for food businesses to get their start or expand through pop ups or future long-term lease options.

Sammy McDowell’s Avenue Eatery will be one of the first occupants of the new space, beginning Oct. 1.

“Like Golden Thyme has for decades on Selby, my mission has always been to create spaces where neighbors gather to meet, eat and enjoy everything that’s good,” McDowell said in a statement. “I am truly honored to be part of the long history and bright future of Black-owned businesses bringing people together in Rondo.”

Griffin said the project fits into the land trust’s mission of repairing the harm to the Black community when the neighborhood was split apart by the construction of I-94.

Rondo Community Land Trust was incorporated in 1993. In 2018, it became the first organization in the state to bring the land trust model to commercial uses.

Wright has also run the Selby Avenue JazzFest for more than two decades, and hopes to turn the event over to the next generation soon.