Angela Pike said Tuesday’s post was one she never thought she would have to make.
But after after scraping through two years of the pandemic, a series of disasters in January hit her gluten-free cafe hard.
Now she’s asking the Louisville community for help to save her business, Silly Ax Cafe at 2216 Dundee Road. Pike posted a $ 20,000 GoFundMe campaign on Tuesday. As of this writing, the campaign has raised more than $ 8,500.
With COVID-19 numbers on the rise, multiple employees getting sick at once, pipes freezing and causing us to close, ice storms shutting us down, January set us back in a terrible way and we have yet to recover, “Pike wrote in her GoFundMe post. “Food costs have risen dramatically and, while gluten free and allergen friendly food is already expensive, the food costs are astronomical.”
Pike said things have not improved since January. The tapioca flour she uses to make many of her gluten-free items has doubled in price. Oil that used to cost $ 20 per container is now $ 45 per container. And it’s the same across the board for ingredients.
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Labor costs have also gone up, and Silly Ax Cafe still doesn’t have enough employees. Even with lines out the door and continuous business demand, it’s not enough.
“At this point, I’m drowning, that’s the truth,” Pike said. “I can’t make ends meet and catch up even though we’re busy, which is maddening. Business doesn’t always equal success. You can have a place that’s busy and it can still go under. It’s a different COVID-19 world now. “
Pike said typical restaurants want food cost to stay between 25% and 28%. Because gluten-free ingredient substitutes cost more, the food cost at Silly Ax Cafe is usually 33%. But this year, food cost has increased to nearly 40%.
“It’s not a lack of business, though of course more business would help,” Pike said. “We could use catering orders, or gift card purchases to use six months from now. Obviously the GoFundMe is the best help … $ 20,000 will buy me a few months to get a new menu out there.”
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Pike said she is working to streamline her menu and remove some of the highest-cost items, which she will produce as specials only. Other changes could also be on the way.
Pike said she follows gluten-free restaurants across the country, many of which suddenly shut down during the pandemic. In the post comments, she saw people ask why the restaurant didn’t ask for help, as the community members would have helped.
She’s hoping the story can be different at Silly Ax Cafe.
“I’m well aware I’m not the best restaurant in the city, but I do think I’m the most important in the city. There’s no one like me out there where the whole family can go and not worry about their allergies , “she said. “I thought, this community has proven they want me here with the lines out the door. It would be very sad, a big loss, to lose us.”
Visit gofundme.com/f/save-silly-axe-cafe to donate to the fund. Silly Ax Cafe is open Wednesday to Saturday 8 am to 8 pm and Sunday 8 am to 3 pm
Features reporter Dahlia Ghabor covers food, dining trends and restaurants in the Louisville area. Send tips on new places or story ideas to [email protected] or follow on Twitter @dghabour.