Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Creating Space: A Pop-up Café Series

Cultivating an opportunity incubator

Dawn Nelson
4 min readSep 18, 2023


The Sunday Dispatch ~ September 17, 2023

A simple café space on a Tuesday morning. Photo by author, © Dawn Nelson.

In my last dispatch, I mentioned investing in and developing economic hubs throughout the full parameters of a city. While there is much social emphasis on increasing population density of downtowns and urban centers, I think we should also consider cultivating multiple nodes across an urban area. Innovative hubs along city edges can include incubator spaces for startups and other initiatives and cultivate new opportunities.

One of the reasons I feel strongly about innovation and incubator spaces is because I grew up in an area with extremely limited opportunities. As a teenager, I would walk for an hour to work in a pizza kitchen. There were only a few employment options if you did not have a car, and even if you did, it was still a 30 minute drive to urban areas with more opportunities.

Space to cultivate opportunities should not be so scarce.

I think about this often as I focus on an underappreciated side of my town that could use more creative attention.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about coffee these past few months. It started with visiting a popup social lounge specializing in coffee cocktails. I realized adding more coffee drinks to my bar repertoire would be a good idea. And after someone offered me a coffee not too long ago with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this added dimension could be a lot of fun.

For a few hours every Tuesday morning, I host a popup café on the north edge of town with some friends. It affords opportunity to be creative and explore new ideas, both culinary and in business. While I focus on the coffee side of the equation, my friend offers her food services since she owns a business as a traveling chef.

Remarkably, all of this currently runs on donations and a bit of personal investment. It is an enticing endeavor. The café flourished the first few Tuesdays in August.

Exciting as it is, soliciting engagement is challenging, since the location is a little out of the way — it is the second floor conference room of a nonprofit office center. It has piqued the…



Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ writing creative nonfiction, memoir, essay. WIP: 0100 Series & The Sunday Dispatch.