SANKOFA DISTRICT OF SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Sankofa District of Syracuse is considered the soul of the city. A newer business sitting on South Salina St. is hoping to add on to that reputation. It’s called Cafe Sankofa Cooperative.

At 2323 S Salina St., there used to be a food cooperative offering healthy options in the middle of a food desert. It closed down. Now a group of volunteers is working to make it a different kind of cooperative, focusing on economics.

“We want people to be able to feel comfortable and be able to have a space where they can come and just be at peace and bring their ideas and culture, too,” said Tanaya Thomas, Board President of Café Sankofa Cooperative.

The business is a cafe in the traditional sense of the word where they offer coffee and food. However, it’s also a safe space for wellness, education, and community events.

“It’s a place that is owned by the community, represented by the community, and a place where individuals can define the space for themselves,” said Nakeia Chambers, who is on the board of Cafe Sankofa Cooperative.

Since rebranding last year, the space has been used for a fashion show, yoga, classes on eating well, reading, and just about anything the community needs it for. They’re working to rebuild an area that’s been ignored for so long it has seen issues with poverty, employment, and education.

“But we still have individuals that live here, we still have individuals that are returning here, and want to see growth in this place and believe in this place. And I believe in Syracuse and I definitely believe in the south side,” Chambers said.

Investing in Sankofa and feeding the money back to its people.

“(Because) what does it mean if it stays longer? It means that people have jobs, it means people have education, it means they have wellness,” Thomas said.

The cafe is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone who is interested in becoming a member may stop by during those hours. The board is currently looking for volunteers to join the team.