Rachael’s Café opened in January of 2008 in Bloomington, Indiana at 300 East Third Street, which is between the Indiana University campus and the town square. The café offers a selection of gourmet coffee, tea, and wine, as well as many food items and baked goods. Rachael’s Café is open seven days a week until 9:00 pm except on Sundays, when it closes at 7:00 pm.
Cafe owner Rachael Jones is a transgender individual from Brown County, Indiana who decided to open a welcoming and open minded café after running out of other employment opportunities. She wanted to transition from Eric to Rachael, and working as a salesperson as trans individual was, according Jones, "not an option"; however, not being able to express herself authentically negatively affected her productivity in her sales position, and eventually led Jones to begin an unsuccessful search for new work as Rachael. Says Jones: “I mean, there are a couple bars in town that are fairly liberal, I was welcome there, but they didn’t want to hire me as a bar tender". Jones decided that because of her lack of options and love of people, that she would open a coffee shop.
Jones turned a vacant building that had formerly housed a laundromat into the eclectically decorated Rachael’s Café. She chose to open the café in Bloomington because it is, according to Jones, “the best city in the state...a pearl”. She also likes Bloomington for its international connections: “I think people come to Bloomington from all over the world and they go from Bloomington to all over the world. If you can share ideas here, what a birthplace to help change.”
Role in Community Organizing
The café acts as a venue for many diverse community and university organizations. It frequently hosts performers and shows, including an array of live music, poetry slams, open mic nights, art showings, and various kinds of fundraisers; every Tuesday is Women's Night, featuring all women performers, while Thursdays are karaoke nights. The cafe also plays host to meetings of community organizations, such as Bloomington Kink munches and workshops. The Cafe maintains a website and facebook page to help patrons keep track of upcoming events.
The cafe makes an effort to be explicitly queer-friendly, carrying The Word and The Advocate amongst its large selection of available reading material. However, Rachael herself notes that she doesn't want the cafe to be viewed as an exclusively alternative hangout, saying: “I might have more business, but I would not accomplish anything.” When describing her mission statement for the café Jones says, “I want to affect change in the community. I want to have the Buddhist and the Baptist and the Republican and the Green Party and everyone in-between to be able to come here and talk and discuss and argue…We have a big round table down there that I would like to use that for.”
Jones, Rachael. Interviewed by Bryn Hannon. Bloomington, IN. 13 November 2009.
Peters, Nicholas. Rachael’s Café [pt. 4 of 5]. Bloomington, IN. 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1szS7PvzbE (accessed November 13, 2009)
Rachael’s Café. “Rachael’s Café.” http://www.bloomingtononline.net/directory/site/mini/1252 (accessed November 10, 2009)