Cafe Quetzal celebrating 2nd anniversary with gala

David Burke


TOPEKA – In its two years of existence, the coffeehouse ministry Café Quetzal has steadily become a haven for the LGBTQ community. 

“We added some signs and things that have really changed public perception,” said the Rev. Christine Potter, who opened up the Topeka café two years ago. “And it claimed our affirmative nature.” 

“I mean it’s always been there, we’ve had the flags and the welcome mats,” business manager Barb Muench said. “It was part of us, but we’ve really embraced the identity since we’ve opened.” 

Barb Muench and Rev. Christine Potter are leading a three-day celebration of Cafe Quetzal's second anniversary, Aug. 24-26. Photos by David Burke

Cafe Quetzal, located in the 21st and Belle shopping center in southwest Topeka, will celebrate its second anniversary Aug. 24-26, with a gala fundraiser, its first open mic night and a parking lot party.

Potter and Muench, mainstays at the café at nearly every hour it’s open, laugh as they boast of Quetzal’s badge of honor — it’s been picketed by members of the ultraconservative Westboro Baptist Church. 

Café Quetzal became a Reconciling Ministries church not long after it opened in August 2021, and as a church it is a member of PFLAG. 

“A lot of people just started coming in, claiming right away that they love the signs, and they feel safe and just owning it the second they walked in,” Muench said. “We became a Reconciling congregation pretty early, so we got the temperature the first year. From there we’ve been leaning into different ways of living that out.” 

The café made itself known during the Pride Fest in Topeka, as well as at rallies supporting the prevention of sexual abuse. 

“Most places are not outwardly open to the queer community in terms of ‘If you come in here, you’re accepted for who you are,’” Potter said. “Not ‘we love you into changing you,’ but ‘you’re accepted.’” 

Making itself part of the community has been a goal of Café Quetzal from the beginning, Potter said. 

“Barb and I, when we began, had a vision of being very outward-focused. But now the whole community has really embraced that,” she said. “Our leadership team looks every month to see how we can be out in the community, so that’s really grown substantially from the beginning.” 


When: 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24

Where: Café Quetzal, 2111 SW Belle Ave., Suites A and B, Topeka

How much: $40 per person, or $150 for a table of four, from

The addition of a leadership team is one of the biggest changes over the past year. In what Muench calls a “quasi-church council,” the eight-person team has taken the lead on a three-day weekend of celebration, Aug. 24-26. 

The Aug. 24 fundraising celebration, “Charting the Course,” will include online and silent auctions for items including original artwork, a three-night stay at a Branson timeshare, a wine tasting, and eight sessions with a life coach. 

There will be heavy hors d’oeuvres, and what Potter calls a giant charcuterie board on the café counter. 

The program will include presentations by Potter and Muench, a video by Great Plains Conference video production specialist Eugenio Hernandez, and testimonials from two of the regular attendees of its Sunday morning “coffee church.” 

It will conclude with a table talk and the café ministry’s theme song, “Crowded Table” — “so people can experience a little bit of how the flow of café worship is in the community,” Potter said. 

Friday, Aug. 25, will be the first of what Potter and Muench hope are regularly scheduled open mic nights from 7 to 9 p.m. 

“We hope to really attract some teens, young adults, people who probably can’t come from 8 to 4 here to the café,” Potter said. 

A parking lot party for the anniversary will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, including food, live music and a “knee-high auction” for children. 

Muench prepares a drink at Cafe Quetzal.

Café Quetzal received the Nathan Stanton Move the Chains Award in June during the annual conference session, named for the late director of congregational excellence and designed for new and developing ministries. 

The coffeeshop is working in earnest to be financially stable, Potter said, with the combined goal of Café Quetzal’s first stewardship campaign and the Aug. 24 gala to reach $5,000. 

“There’s an interesting blend of the kind of financing that’s required for a place like this, that’s a business and a church and an outreach ministry,” Potter said. “We really consider Café Quetzal to be somewhere between church and mission. All churches are missions anyway, but this is a unique mission that’s putting ourselves out there for a very specific segment of the population who has felt alienated from church. That’s why we need outside help.  

“We’re trying to reach the margins, and places trying to reach the margins don’t overflow with money from the inside,” she added. 

Attendance on Sunday morning has risen to 35-plus, Potter said, with people still finding out about the café and its church. 

“The core of who’s coming in has expanded, and we still have people coming in saying, ‘I didn’t know this place was here.’ It’s amazing how Topeka is just big enough to where small businesses, small churches, small entities in the community are like little gems that can be lost,” Potter, a Topeka native, said. “We’re still being discovered but we’re definitely growing that base.” 

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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