Sam’s Place: Where Coffee Meets Community

Sam’s Place is a social enterprise that supports young people in finding meaningful employment.

Sam's Place

At Sam’s Place, every cup of coffee comes with a side of social impact. More than a caffeine fix, each sip supports a youth empowerment program aimed at building brighter futures. Sam’s Place, a social enterprise of MCC Manitoba, equips and empowers young people to overcome barriers by bridging the gap toward meaningful employment.

The original Sam’s Place opened in a used bookstore on Henderson Ave in 2017. The space hosted MCC programming and events and quickly became a community hub for young people. The natural next step was integrating more intentional programming, followed by a curriculum that would support training young people.

“We focus on the three e’s—empowering, equipping, and employment,” says Alison Greenslade, the cafe manager. She’s been with Sam’s Place for the last five years and oversaw the recent move to the East Exchange District, a more centralized hub for the cafe. Accessibility is a core value for Sam’s Place, and its new location is easy to bus, walk, or bike to, which is helpful for those who face transportation barriers. 

The Sam’s Place program aims to be as low-to-no barrier as possible for its participants. They recognize that many youth and young adults face challenges in finding meaningful employment, and their curriculum allows them to learn valuable skills that will equip them in future workplaces. Participants are aged 14-24 and come from diverse backgrounds, including those grappling with mental health stressors, such as depression or unstable home environments. The program serves as a safe haven for LGBTQIA+ individuals, newcomers to Canada, and those for whom English is a second language, fostering a supportive environment where everyone can thrive.

“Everything that we do and decide is centred around how the program participants will experience the space,” says Alison. Their processes and menu are designed to be easy and approachable for people new to the workforce. Community is key, so every item you purchase in the cafe goes back into the program, from the food and beverages to the local wares. They’re intentional with the products they bring in, focusing on local whenever possible. Their local offerings include La Belle Baguette, Bagelsmith, Fête Ice Cream, Sheepdog Cold Brew, Prism Kombucha, Verde Juice, Coal & Canary, Make Candle Co., and Honey Dill Print Shop.

Their knack for sourcing locally extends to their design and build as well. The cafe itself is sunny, colourful, and modern, thanks to the design by their neighbours at Number TEN Architectural Group. A fresh rebrand makes their mission clear — it’s printed on the cups and the walls. Sam’s Place is a place to belong.

The neighbourhood certainly agrees, with a number of local residents making Sam’s Place the spot for their daily sips. They’re continuing to grow, and with that, “We hope the average customer can see that this is a great place to have your coffee with a cause,” says Alison.

Stay tuned for updates, including plans for a pet-friendly patio, a loyalty program, and more events and activities for youth program participants. In the meantime, you can head to Sam’s Place for your next caffeine fix, like the highly recommended Taro Root Latte, which tastes incredible iced and with tapioca pearls.

Join Sam’s Place in making a difference, one sip at a time.

Visit their cafe at 140 Bannatyne Ave, or keep up with them online:
Instagram: @samsplacecoffee