Mychael Wright: Transitions: University Ave

Mychael Wright, businessman, community activist and jazz lover discusses his coffee shop and clients

Editing and Production by: The students of Tom Davies' Human Geography class
Photos by: Kaying and Tanisha from Randy Starr's Mixed Media art class


What is your name?

Mychael Wright.

How long have you lived in the Twin Cities?

47 of my almost 52 years.

What changes have you seen on University Avenue?

Ooh, depends on far back you want to go. If you want to go back 30 years, University was becoming much of a derelict with a lot of abandoned buildings. When the Asian community started to arrive here they put businesses in those buildings and revitalized University.

How do you think the light rail trains are going to affect the other transportation on University Avenue?

I am a futurist. I like the type of transportation.

The situation with light rail as far as I see it, is not fair. There are businesses that have stood the test of time for 20 or 30 years, who I don’t see being able to make it, which is unfortunate.

Do you think there will be more or less crime with the light rail? Please explain your answer.

Ooh, that’s a good one. I think there might be a slight rise in crime. You will have people coming into an area who usually wouldn’t. Because they can originate from a distance and come in, and not know the lay of the land, as far as our neighborhoods are. Hopefully, maybe we can nip it in the bud, with any development you know some negative things come along with it.

What is your career now?

Well, I’m a business owner and I own a coffee shop called Golden Thyme, it’s on Selby Avenue, which is I would say the last best area of black entrepreneurship in St. Paul -- with any numbers around it. Going back a ways there are things that I’ve done in life that helped me get to where I’m going and being a coffee shop owner. It’s really more than a coffee shop. This is what the patrons say. I am very humble and modest but it is a gathering place. It’s an oasis. Our customer base is black, white, polka-dotted, striped, they are all in there. It feels good. I’m very fortunate.

Made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.