The Blackwells, owners of ‘Cafe on the Corner,’ give back during pandemic

‘It started because someone gave me an opportunity’

by Ashley Woodson
For New Pittsburgh Courier
“Café on the Corner” has been in business since Aug. 30, 2014, at 2700 Shadeland Ave. on the North Side.

But originally, New Hope Church purchased the building and the community became involved to help clean, paint and turned it into the “Café ‘n’ Creamery.”

The Café ‘n’ Creamery eventually closed, but the building continued to be used for events and meetings. The owners, Michael and Lateresa Blackwell, are known as community leaders who live in the community and have stake in the community. They decided that the building was in good shape, and before long, “Café on the Corner” was created.

Nearly six years later, they, like most people, never imagined something like the coronavirus pandemic would happen.

LATERESA AND MICHAEL BLACKWELL, owners of “Cafe on the Corner,” on Shadeland Avenue on the North Side. (Photos by Courier photographer Ashley Woodson)

“COVID-19 hit us like a ton of bricks,” Lateresa Blackwell told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “And because ‘Café on the Corner’ is in a residential community and not in the business district, we see it every day. We’ve seen how stressed people were, so we wanted to show everyone how much we loved them and how we could help.”

“Café on the Corner” has been giving back to its community by preparing and giving away free lunches that include ham and turkey sandwiches, chips, salad and a drink. The Pittsburgh Foundation, New Sun Rising, community members and crowdfunding sources have been major financial contributors.

“We have a nonprofit arm in the community called ‘Kitchen of Grace,’ Lateresa Blackwell said. “We were able to get funding that would allow us to create the campaign, ‘Feed Our Community.’ We serve food for over 1,000 people in the city during COVID-19 including Ebenezer Towers, Northview Heights Senior Council and Zone 1 Police Station.”

The Blackwells have always been in the spirit of giving back to the community. “It started because someone gave me an opportunity,” Michael Blackwell aptly described on the “Café on the Corner” website.

FREE LUNCHES HAVE BEEN PROVIDED by “Cafe on the Corner” since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Michael Blackwell has been an executive chef since 1970. “My apprenticeship started at Three Rivers Stadium inside the Allegheny Club,” he told the Courier. “I was awarded an apprenticeship program with the local union 237 and out of 200 people, I was the only Black selected to be in the program and graduate as an executive chef.”

He’s been an executive in helping others ever since.

(For more information on the lunch giveaways, call 412-415-3672.)

FEATURED PHOTO: THE STAFF AT “CAFE ON THE CORNER” on the North Side, providing free lunches to those in the community who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Ashley Woodson)

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