I’ve been a sometime-patron of the Third World Café in Chicago for several years. The comfortable atmosphere, free wi-fi, tasty-but-healthy muffins were enticing.
I liked to start the work day there after attending Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church a few blocks away. In fact, I spent an hour or so sipping coffee there while catching up on email and doing some work on Friday morning. The workers were friendly – as usual – and most of the tables were constantly filled. It seemed like a normal day.
But it was not. When I arrived this morning, I discovered the door locked, a ladder standing in the middle of the cafe, all the community newspapers removed – and the food. It was already on its way to becoming an empty store front.
President Obama was in Chicago last night, and slept at his home just a few blocks away. He isn’t known as a patron of the Third World Café – another restaurant on 53rd Street serves a breakfast he liked to order. Nonetheless, as he ponders the problems of unemployment and a poor economy, I hope he recognizes that most jobs in America are like the ones that were lost here today: relatively small businesses and their employees, whose wages support the other small businesses in the area. We need to find policies that support these enterprises, not the banks and corporations that receive so much attention.
Farewell, Third World Café – and good luck with whatever endeavors come next.