At the height of the pandemic in 2020, an Edinburgh couple launched crowdfunding to help them create the city’s first ‘queer cafe’.
After taking over what was known as Greenwoods cafe, Oskar and Zak, both 26, reached out to the community to help transform the site into a “safe and sober” space.
Having received a flood of donations, the couple achieved their goal within weeks, allowing them to complete a series of works to transform the café into their dream space.
Edinburgh Live recently caught up with the pair to see how their project has progressed from cafes to cabaret shows over the past year.
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Working as DJs and drag queens before the adventure, Zak and Oskar had hoped to create a space where the queer community could gather that didn’t need to be a nightclub or a bar.
Opening ‘Kafe Kweer’ in September 2020, the space has now become a hub not only as a cafe, but also an events space used for a host of social activities.
Speaking to Edinburgh Live, Oskar said: “Besides the money, what we have received through this campaign are many messages from people expressing their enthusiasm for a sober queer space.
“So often queer spaces are exclusively bars and nightclubs, which provide an important space for community and connection, but it became clear that there was a desire for an all-ages space that doesn’t focus on alcohol.
“We have remained open despite various restrictions and closures, selling food, drinks, eco-friendly groceries and local artwork
“We’re open every day, and just when the going gets tough, we get even more support from the community, which reminds us why we do it.”
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Giving the cafe a bright red facade interior and pride flags hanging everywhere, the pair brought a bold and exciting staple to Fountainbridge.
Sharing the overwhelmingly positive feedback they’ve received from inside and outside the LGBT+ community, Oskar explained that they also hope the cafe will make a deeper statement and work to “build bridges” to Edinburgh.
He added: “I think having a public company that is visibly queer but welcomes all ages, while supporting local creatives, has generated a lot of goodwill from people.
“One of our main missions has always been to build bridges between the queer community and those who do not belong to it. We have many clients who are not part of the queer community and who have learned new things through to us or may have come to us.
with questions or stories about things they are trying to understand.
“A crucial part of understanding those unlike us is seeing them in person, humanizing an otherwise abstract concept.
“Every day I fear a showdown of homophobes or transphobes, but all we have received is the curiosity and generosity of everyone in the neighborhood, the city and beyond.”
Now a thriving area of the city, Kafe Kweer has seen bustling business seven days a week, with Oskar and Zak hoping they can continue to fulfill their Edinburgh dream.
They said: “We hope we can continue to be a space to learn, to reconnect after these troubled times and to support local queer creatives.
“To be visibly queer is to choose your happiness over your safety, and the platform of queer joy, while selling delicious treats, will be our focus for as long as I can foresee.”
Kafe Kweer is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the site also hosting various events on Thursday evenings.