Feeding the multitude: Pregnant Ph.D. candidate, Adrian Lipscombe who also runs a café, turned one ask into 5,000 loaves of bread for Standing Rock protestors | The Light Series

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Adrian Lipscombe was eight months pregnant and dissertating when she responded to a call to action to help thousands of DAPL protestors at Standing Rock eat a Thanksgiving meal. Now, her cafe is the heart of a Midwestern city and she still finds time to cook at the James Beard House.

Where are you located?

Originally from Texas and now living in Wisconsin

What did you create? 

Uptown Café in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

What made you start it?

My background is Architecture and city planning. I am a Ph.D. candidate who concentrates on attitude and behavior of minorities towards transportation and land use. I opened a restaurant in 2017 to use as a catalyst to revitalize a community in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in which I was the first woman-of-color, hospitality-owned business.  

What did you find out about who you are as you built your company?

From making bread with the community to send to [protestors defending the burial grounds] of the Standing Rock Sioux nation for Thanksgiving for over 5000 people, to hosting several dinners highlighting different chefs from different cultures from Trinidad to a chef from the Appalachians, I use food to tell stories of Black history and especially mine from the South to the Midwest. 

Oceti Sakowin camp near Standing Rock Sioux tribal grounds in North Dakota. Protestors continue to demonstrate the Dakota Access Pipeline project that will destroy the Native nation’s burial grounds.

The opportunity to make bread to serve for Thanksgiving with the LaCrosse community was something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  I only lived in the city for three months when the opportunity came up to send bread rolls with two chef friends to Standing Rock. I posted via social media and the local paper picked up my request to the community, to help me make bread to send.  I was only looking to make 2,000, but we made that by 11 a.m. The volunteers varied from 4-years-old to 92-years of strength. Unfortunately, I could not travel because I was eight months pregnant at the time.

What makes your business special?

Our restaurant looks to maintain the connection within the community.  We want to be a hearth for the community. We pride ourselves in working with local farmers and staying connected with the community. 

What did you find out about who you are as you built your company?

This year has been a whirlwind of adventures, from travel to cooking at the James Beard House, twice.

Cooking at the James Beard House (JBH) is an amazing experience.  It is something that I never expected to do. You are standing in the home of someone you watched for years on TV and collected his books.  You get to see him in a personal light of how he lived, to a degree. You are cooking in his kitchen. The opportunity to bring a Juneteenth event to JBH to celebrate but also recognize a African American history and culture is an honor.  It opens the door for more stories of our history to be shared through our food and storytelling.

Getting the second chance to come back to JBH to tell my story was humbling.  The chance to speak about how I came into the culinary world and the women that guided me to stand there was everything.  I look at these opportunities as a stepping stone to continue the work on bringing equity and inclusion in cities and culinary/ hospitality field through policies, entrepreneurship, innovations, mentorship and communities.

How to find Adrian







Ark Republic is ending the year with a series of mixed-media stories of hope, empowerment, leadership, courage, brilliance family and affirmation. We want to enter into the New Year with a community collaboration called, “The Light Series.”

The Light Series is a month-long exploration of all things light and love. So, we invite you to walk with us. Even, we ask that you participate in highlighting those in your community who need some shine, or even yourself, your business or your superpower.

Our first week, December 1 to December 7, we will feature stories of innovators in our communities. Next, from December 8 to December 15, we share stories of inspiration from our entrepreneurs. Afterwards, from December 16 to December 25, we explore spiritual, religious and family traditions, as well as, winter rituals. Finally, from December 26 to January 1, we will end the series with stories of affirmation and forward movement in this next cycle, 2020.

If you would like to submit a personal essay, article, video, poem/spoken word or other media presentation of your work, just provide basic information and answer at least five of the questions. Once finished, send your answers and a high resolution picture(s) to the following:  thelight@arkrepublic.com.

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