Apr 12, 2024 - News

Owner of Manolo's Bakery opening a cafe inside Myers Park United Methodist Church

man looking at construction of a coffee bar

Manolo Betancur inside Higher Grounds by Manolo's. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Higher Grounds by Manolo's is a new coffee shop inside Myers Park United Methodist Church that's opening in mid-May.

Why it matters: It's a combined effort to serve the community by one of Charlotte's most prominent houses of worship and a local business owner with a passion for humanitarianism.

What's happening: Higher Grounds by Manolo's will be led by Manolo Betancur, owner of Manolo's Bakery on Central Avenue.

  • "We're being very intentional about hiring people," Betancur says, adding that the employees will be people who need a "second opportunity," whether they're immigrants, minorities or people with disabilities.
  • Profits from the cafe will be donated back into the community in the form of grants, which the church donates locally and globally each year.
inside of cafe under construction
The cafe overlooks the indoor basketball courts. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

What to expect: In addition to some of the baked cookies that you'll find at Manolo's like muffins and cookies, the cafe will serve pies from Tita's Cake House, and gelato and gluten-free cookies from Artisen Vegelato.

  • The coffee will be imported from farmers in Colombia.
  • There will also be grab-and-go lunch options.
  • The 3,500-square-foot cafe seats about 70 people inside, and it has extra seating on its outdoor patio.

Between the lines: The cafe is in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Charlotte. Myers Park United Methodist Church leaders say they hope the cafe will bring in people from all over the city.

"You don't have to go too far through the Bible to find breaking of bread and connection ... I think it makes sense for the church to have a cafe as a place for connection."
ā€” Britt Yett, Myers Park United Methodist Church missions program director
three people stand inside cafe that's under construction
From left to right: Britt Yett, Manolo Betancur and Saraibeth Dozier, the church's executive director

Flashback: Betancur, who's originally from Colombia, and Myers Park United Methodist Church have a history of working together on humanitarian aid projects ā€” from delivering bread to migrant workers in the North Carolina hills to helping Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

  • During the pandemic in 2020, the church hired Betancur and his employees to make meals for people in need.
"If it weren't for this church I might've had to close the bakery."
ā€” Manolo Betancur, owner of Manolo's Bakery

Stop by: Higher Grounds by Manolo's is on the ground floor of Myers Park United Methodist Church at 1501 Queens Road.

  • It'll be open daily from 7am-1pm.

Zoom out: Higher Grounds is the central component of a larger renovation of the church.

  • The new 75,000-square-foot building has an auditorium, conference rooms, podcast rooms for rent, a gym, children's area, offices, an art room and other community spaces like a hospitality suite, which can fit about 20 unhoused neighbors through their partnership with Roof Above.
inside of an auditorium that is under construction
The auditorium (pictured here) will have state-of-the-art technology, including sound system, lighting and a large monitor. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
large mural
The youth space on the third floor will have an art classroom, conference rooms, areas for studying and lounging, and features this mural painted with the Mural Ninjas and youth from the church. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
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