Cafe Euphoria Serves up Equity and Inclusion Alongside Coffee

This workers-owned collective provides a safe space.

(Lazyllama /

Welcome to Cafe Euphoria! If you've been looking for a safe and welcoming place that values equity and inclusion above all else, then this is the perfect spot. Cafe Euphoria was designed from top-down to support marginalized communities. The cafe was started by members of the trans community and although it’s billed as a safe space for LGBTQIA+ folks — everyone's welcome here!

What if we opened a cafe?
Downtown Troy has the scoop on Cafe Euphoria, an eatery located in the heart of Troy, New York. Cafe Euphoria differs from the other cafes that dot downtown Troy’s streets in that this unique restaurant is owned and operated, as a collective, by members of the transgender community. 

Cafe Euphoria owes its existence to Dr. Atsushi Akera, now the general manager at the cafe. Dr. Akera’s resume however, has nothing to do with serving soups and brewing coffees. She previously worked as an associate professor and graduate program director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Science and Technology. 

Akera saw the value of the hospitality industry in building community. After COVID-19’s isolating effect on the trans community, she posted on Discord, “What if we opened a cafe?” A number of other LGBTQIA+ netizens were intrigued by Akera’s idea, and Cafe Euphoria was born. 

“It’s always been my dream to open a cafe, and to build community,” Akera explained. “Given the political polarization that we currently face, and the present assault on transgender rights, it seems all the more important to create a safe space, one that’s built around a principle of mutual understanding and respect, rather than isolation.”

A safe space
The restaurant was designed not just to build community and provide delicious food, but also as a safe space. According to Spectrum Local News, transgender people face discrimination at work, are paid less on average, and have a more difficult time finding jobs. For the trans worker collective that owns and runs Cafe Euphoria, it’s a chance to embrace their identities without fear of prejudice. 

Tucker Hanley, Cafe Euphoria’s executive chef explains, “At old jobs, I’ve had to hide the fact that I’m trans for fear of losing those jobs.” At Cafe Euphoria, Hanley will have no need to hide his identity.

Cafe Euphoria isn’t just a safe space for workers; the restaurant is designed to promote mental health and community for trans people and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The restaurant is decked out in bright, positive, uplifting colors. “The idea was to create a positive space where people can hang out with friends and work and have some of the colors so that it’s kind of lively,” Akera explained.

On sale, alongside coffee, sandwiches, and other foods, Cafe Euphoria will offer pre-loved clothing for sale. Akera hopes this service will help trans people explore their appearance in a safe and accepting location. She tells Spectrum Local News, “Clothing is a big issue for members of the transgender community, so the idea was to create a safe space where folks who are in early transition can just kind of play with clothes.”

Something for everyone
Cafe Euphoria doesn’t just sell clothing and coffee though. Despite its name, it operates as a full restaurant with a rotating menu. 

Hanley shared, “We’ll be changing it four times a year to reflect what’s in season in the area, using local produce from local farmers and makers, because this is ultimately a community project.” The cafe offers vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian menu options.

Downtown Troy adds that the cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, and is part of a trend moving away from “gay bars” and towards “gay cafes,” that focus on community building, in an environment not focused on alcohol.

More than a business
Cafe Euphoria mission statement and LGBTQIA+ inclusive atmosphere isn’t the only thing that makes the restaurant unique, however. The cafe functions as a worker-owned collective. All the member-owners, who are also all part of the LGBTQIA+ community, have different roles in running the restaurant, but they also all have equal pay and equal input into making business decisions. 

The goal of the co-op is also radically different from the ordinary business model. Rather than trying to turn a profit, Cafe Euphoria’s financial goal is for the cafe to be able to break even, while still providing its owners with a livable wage. There’s no investors, so there’s no profit. We push everything out in wages. So the idea is to balance things out,” Akera tells Resilience

In addition to ensuring equitable wages for the worker-owners at Cafe Euphoria, the restaurant is dedicated to securing equity for consumers as well. The menu features tired pricing. 

“It is all self-declared, Akera clarifies. “You don’t have to explain a thing. You just tell us what discount to apply, and we will apply the discount.” 

“We are anti-capitalist in our composition to the core,” says Akera, “We’re trying to create an alternative economic system that goes against the traditional ways of doing things, based on principles of equity, inclusion, all of that.”

Cafe Euphoria is proof that people can create a haven of acceptance and equity. This kind of establishment amplifies the positive change our world needs. With Cafe Euphoria leading the charge, we can create a world where people feel empowered to let their inner identities shine through.

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