Hola! My name is Amanda, founder of Olé Café!
Seattle has an abundance of coffee shops, but none are like ¡Olé! Café...Imagine walking into a café in the heart of Madrid during a trip to Spain; you order a café con leche and pan tostado, have a seat next to another patron and strike up a conversation in Spanish, while hearing Manú Chao playing in the background. You think: I wish I could have a place like this to meet others and practice Spanish when I get back home. Now you do, but it is so much more.
OLÉ: THE VISION
Before entering Olé Café, you'll notice a sign that says "Spanish only". You'll be greeted in Spanish by your barista and excited by the array of Spanish tapas and beverages in front of you: tortilla española, pan tostado con tomate y jamón ibérico...you'll sit down with your café and comida and perhaps dust off your Spanish with the person next to you (don't worry, there will be some handy "phrases" on a sign at your table). You'll see books and games in Spanish, a separate classroom area, hear authentic tunes en español, check out the events calendar listing nightly happenings such as karaoke or game night and see course offerings by Vámonos Spanish Center (my already established business that has been running for 5 years, www.vamonosspanishcenter.com).
By the time you leave, you'll likely have gotten in speaking practice, made a new friend, had Spanish food, listened to a Spanish artist that you now love, signed up for a group class, and made plans to meet your new friend at the trivia night in Spanish on Friday. Olé is a community place to meet others (something that Seattle is desperately lacking) and to practice language in real-life situations that usually can only be done through travel. You'll also learn a bit about Spanish culture, phrases, geography etc. While there is an abundance of restaurants in Seattle that represent Latin America, there are few where you are able to learn about Spain. We want to change that!
I began working as a Spanish middle school teacher and quickly learned that the job was not conducive to how I envisioned teaching others, nor how I planned to spend my life. A language class needs to be fun, interactive and exciting, but this was hard to create with large classes and limiting district policies. After 2 years of working 7-5, being under-appreciated, and feeling like I wasn't making a difference, I changed gears. I started a small Spanish-language school, Vámonos Spanish Center, and began teaching group classes just as I had envisioned they should be taught. As the school grew, so did my vision for Olé Café. After 2 years of business began dreaming up the idea of creating a Spanish-speaking community in Wallingford/Seattle where language learning and practice could happen in the same place. I am so passionate about the Spanish language and hope to inspire and show as many people as I can the great benefits of learning another language, especially Spanish.
Thank you to those who have already donated to this project. I am truly grateful that you are inspired and excited by this idea! The café has been open since June, and we are slowly growing. What a whirlwind 4 months it has been! I am so grateful to have made it this far, and am excited to see it continue to grow. As it is a novel concept, the growth will take time; we are passionate about maintaining the "no English" rule, to make sure that it is truly a place to practice Spanish. Any support during this period of growth will be greatly appreciated! All contributions will go towards business expenses.
To those who have donated, please come in for your campaign reward! We have a list of names at the register, so let the barista know you contributed to the campaign :)
A FINAL NOTE:
We truly are living the American dream; to have an idea and be able to make it happen through the help of others is something very special and unique to this country that I am grateful for everyday. I feel lucky to have had the chance to raise money and to have made this vision a reality, for myself, my students and community. To all of my donors, I am SO thankful for your donation and can't wait to see you at Olé Café!