A mother-daughter team builds a cooperative cafe in Sherman Heights

A community-minded cafe has found a permanent place to land in Sherman Heights where it’s a founding member of 1835 Studios, a creative hub that houses a mix of retail, art and event venues. Although Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary launched its first storefront on El Cajon Boulevard in late 2019, it was forced to close in 2020 after the COVID-19 shutdown and its owner subsequently sold the building.

Co-owned by Khea Pollard and his mother, Cynthia M. Ajani, the black-owned business is now open Tuesday through Friday on Imperial Avenue, with a grand opening event to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, 28 February. At 1835 Studios, he shares the 17,000 square foot space with galleries and boutiques as well as an outdoor climbing gym and food trucks; Chef Buddha Blasian Soul Foods is currently parked on site, with more food trucks to come.

Cafe X at 1835 Studios.
Cafe X

Created as a welcoming space for artist talks, community talks and other events and offering a menu of coffee and tea drinks, from wild berry tea mixed with lemonade and fresh fruit to Shabazz , a warm, dark and white chocolate honey flavored latte named after Malcolm X, the cafe’s namesake, Cafe X has another goal: to help propel systemic change for marginalized communities in San Diego.

Pollard and Ajani, who have dedicated their careers to health care and public service, positioned Cafe X as a stakeholder, along with San Diego for Every Child and Jewish Family Service of San Diego, in the development of the Black Women’s Resilience Project, a program designed to support generational wealth creation in underserved communities and address racial and gender inequality by providing a guaranteed income for Black women. They also work with training organizations for young people, creating internships that could lead to careers within the cooperative. Pollard tells Eater that Cafe X is just the first of several employee-owned businesses she plans to build in San Diego; she hopes to open another cafe in the south bay and even expand her mission to include a full-service restaurant.

1835 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92102

Virginia S. Braud