Photos and Article by Michael Isberto | Staff Writer
Sept. 18, 2014
When small independent coffee shops flourish, they can be the gems of a city. Back to the Grind has thrived as one of the premiere coffee shops Riverside for the past 18 years in the heart of the city’s historic downtown area. Operating out of an old building, renovations are in order for it be kept up to date new accessibility laws and building standards.
Darren Conkerite, owner of The Grind, has started a fundraising campaign through GoFundMe.com to raise money to revitalize his shop. The campaign will support goals such as upgrading their electrical and gas systems, repairing air conditioning systems upstairs and adding air conditioning system to the basement. Conkerite is also planning on installing an oven in order to bake confections in the shop, reinforcing the staircase in the rear, widening the mezzanine doorway and, perhaps the most important goal, making upgrades to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In order to complete these upgrades to the coffee shop Conkerite is looking to raise $30,000.
“Where the ADA comes into effect, in a sense we’re being sued by a disabled person that’s also suing seven or eight different eateries around,” Conkerite said. “So we have to get a lawyer to see how that’s all going to play out. Because they’re saying we have some issues with our front door, we have some issues with the configurations of the tables, and we have some issues with the bathroom, and the final issue was getting downstairs. Over the years the laws have changed.”
Since opening in 1996, The Grind is regarded by some as the hub for artistic creativity in Riverside. The Grind has been involved in hosting many events including poetry readings, art shows, and burlesque shows. They have also hosted live concert performances, jazz workshops, and have even done collaborative shows for art, music, and dance with local colleges RCC and UC Riverside. The Grind’s impact on the community throughout the years is irrefutable.
According to the core belief system displayed on its wall, “Back to the Grind is a place to come together, leaving all labels outside.” The Grind spreads a message of love and acceptance to the community.
The Grind recently had a community fundraiser party Aug. 29 to kick off its campaign, which rose over $6,000 in one night. The GoFundMe campaign online has raised over $5,500 in just nine days. This is a prominent start for The Grind’s fundraising efforts, but they are still a ways away from their goal. For those looking to contribute to the fundraiser, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/Backtothegrind .