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LA’s Foremost LGBTQ Coffee Shop Crowdfunds to Try and Stay Alive

The owners need funds before the end of August

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Cuties Coffee neon sign hangs on a brick building over a coffee shop.
Cuties Coffee
Mona Holmes Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater LA and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. In 2022, she was nominated for a 2022 James Beard Award.

A beacon for the LGBTQ community, Cuties Coffee, just celebrated its year anniversary this July. But operating in Los Angeles can be a costly enterprise, so the owners launched a Patreon fundraiser to help pay for operating costs and community activities. The founders require membership donations of $12,000 per month to stay open, and need the funds before September 1.

Owners Virginia Bauman and Iris Bainum-Houle were on a mission when opening their queer cafe and gathering spot last year. Prior to Cuties opening, Bauman and Bainum-Houle started a monthly event called Queers, Coffee & Donuts in bungalow near the Los Angeles River, which eventually led to two 2017 milestones: the pair launched a February Indiegogo campaign which raised over $30,000, then opened five months later in July.

Cuties is a unique space that does more than just serve coffee. Many events are designed to make a difference for trans and queer youth, including partnerships with salons to provide haircuts, a program to help find housing for those in need, along with clothing and toiletry donations.

Maintaining a Los Angeles cafe is a challenge for any business owner. Increasing costs is a constant, plus Cuties is stationed in a challenging location near Vermont and Melrose. Los Angeles Magazine first noticed the campaign, and Bauman stated the following in a Medium blog post, “Unless we are able to reach our Patreon goals in August, we will likely have to close our doors.” As the end of August approaches, this leaves very little time for Bauman and Bainum-Houle to raise the necessary funds.

Cuties. 710 N Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles, CA