La Dona Cerveceria’s Celebrated Space Supports a Vibrant Latinx Community
Specific Benefit Corporation (SBC) La Dona Cerveceria boasts a brewery, taproom, and kitchen that provide multiple avenues into the Latinx experience; while educating, hosting events and supporting the needs of its community.
“It’s important that businesses have values about changing things in society, but if you’re not going to commit and go out of your way to do something tangible, then it’s kind of a moot point.”
WLa Dona Cerveceria didn’t actively consider becoming a social enterprise business at the outset. They organically fell into that alignment as they defined their mission to make a positive impact on society, their workers, the community, and the environment. “We were drawn to becoming the Specific Benefit Corporation we are today because those companies are focused on the people that they employ and the community they serve and work to do that better,” says Sergio Manancero, GM at La Dona Cerveceria. “That’s how we operate.”
La Dona’s 10,000SF space just west of downtown Minneapolis off of Glenwood Avenue boasts a taproom, brewery, kitchen, event space, art gallery, and outdoor gathering area. “It’s where people in the Latino and
Latino-hearted community want to be,” Sergio notes. He’s definitely a relationship-builder who listens when people in the community reach out with various requests.
He gets a lot of inquiries about events, including fund raisers that increase awareness and directly impact people in the community who need support. “Rather than refer to set policies, I connect with people
and if I get the feeling it’s a good fit and that we should do it, I work alongside the organizer to make it happen,” Sergio shares. Spoken like a true social good business owner.
Set one foot in the vibrant, Latinx culture infused space and the multi-layered impact becomes apparent. Events hosted by the community for those in the community are frequent, setting the social-good feel of the experience. The collection of unique beers reflective of their multicultural community is served and talked about at length… in Spanish as well as English.
“In our taproom, we provide accessibility to the craft brewery market here in Minnesota through education, tastings, and conversation,” says Sergio. ”Prior to my starting the brewery, Latino beer drinkers were just being written off as Corona drinkers. Now we’ve proven that our community likes craft beers. And I want to see the people who come through the doors succeed in their own entrepreneurial venture, whether it’s craft beer or something else.”
Sergio has plenty to operate and oversee with the brewery and taproom, special events and weekly event happenings, and a kitchen serving multicultural fare seven days a week. It’s no wonder he’s not thinking global impact. For La Dona, all thoughts about impact are hyper-focused on north side of Minneapolis and the Latino community — wherever they’re at. It’s allowed La Dona to grow deep roots, which they recently celebrated in October with a weekend-long celebration of three years in business.
When it comes to consumers shopping their values, Sergio believes it is happening more in the marketplace generally. He says rather than talk to his staff about financial drivers, he encourages personal autonomy in the workplace and asks questions like ‘how are you really?’ He says that if he’s setting that tone of honesty, openness, and relationship building with them, it translates into how staff talks with La Dona’s guests to create positive experiences.
Consumers want to have experiences like that. To La Dona’s credit, they’ve also managed to infuse the Latinx soccer, beer, food, salsa culture elements. You can even roll your mat out for a weekly Wednesday yoga class followed by cerveza. Weddings, the 3v3 Futbol League and Social Club are all making a
comeback in their lively spaces.
Despite the pandemic, La Dona kept it all growing and going. At a homeless encampment in La Dona’s neighborhood, they delivered food to its residents for a month while operating under Covid restrictions at 50% capacity. The encampment’s needs presented an opportunity for La Dona to step into its values. Sergio noted, “It’s important that businesses have values about changing things in society, but if you’re not going to commit and go out of your way to do something tangible, then it’s kind of a moot point.”