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Coffee shop in San Diego’s Black Arts & Culture District promotes mental health

The Mental Bar was created with the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of their customers in mind
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 19, 2024

In honor of Juneteenth, ABC 10News is shining the spotlight on one small business making a big difference in San Diego’s Black Arts and Culture District.

At The Mental Bar,a coffee shop located on Imperial Avenue, customers take away much more than a cup of joe.

“When it comes to mental health, it’s not just about medication or the things you’re prescribed. It also comes down to environment,” said Tommy Walker, who opened The Mental Bar with his wife Daneyel Walker two years ago.

Inside the shop, you’ll find unique menu items and the work of local artists on display. The space was designed with mental, physical and emotional wellness at heart.

“Create an environment that you feel comfortable in, you feel calm and relaxed…that’s what we wanted to do. The space is meant for you to get out of your head,” explained Walker.

The couple opened The Mental Bar after seeing a need in their neighborhood.

“We’re in an underserved community,” said Daneyel Walker. “The Starbucks that they had around the corner…they took the tables and chairs out so that people cannot sit and communicate and create.”

Their business has grown, in part, thanks to a new initiative by the San Diego Tourism Authority called the Tourism Accelerator program.The award-winning program offers services designed to help minority-owned businesses thrive and become better connected with our local tourism industry.

“We know San Diego is comprised of a lot of small businesses and really helping them to tap into this billion dollar industry that we have here…we know supports our communities and our residents,” said Theresa Cunningham, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement with the San Diego Tourism Authority.

Cunningham shared that 10 minority-owned businesses are in the program each year — gaining access to educational tools, marketing and mentoring resources that help them take their business to the next level. The program aims to provide equitable opportunities to more businesses across our region while showcasing the incredible diversity San Diego has to offer.

For The Mental Bar, success is evident and measured by the smiles of their many customers — building community one cup of coffee at a time.