For nearly a year, seven Rotary Clubs joined the Lake Street Council in mentoring businesses devastated by the May 2020 unrest following the death of George Floyd. On June 26, Rotary District 5950 joined the businesses in celebrating their rise from the ashes.


By Jeff Hage, District 5950 Public Image team


In the days following the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, Lake Street started to change.

Rioters took to the streets of Lake Street with a surge of destruction.

More than 300 businesses- many with ethnic origins- were the victims of break-ins, looting, and fires.

Eight Rotary clubs from District 5950 teamed with the Lake Street Council to bring eight of those businesses back to life.

On Saturday, June 26, the Rotary Club of Edina, Rotary Club of Minneapolis #9, Rotary Club of Eden Prairie A.M., Minneapolis City of Lakes Rotary Club, Rotary Club of Minneapolis South, Rotary Club of Minnetonka-Excelsior and the Rotary Club of Minneapolis Uptown joined with the eight businesses and the Lake Street Council to celebrate the reopening of the businesses with a series of open houses.

The businesses who partnered with Rotary District 5950 and hosted open houses were: El Amor Fashion, Healing Path Wellness Services, La Loteria Market, La Michoacana Purepecha, Los Andes, Midori’s Floating World Café, Pineda Tacos Plus, and Post Plus, Inc. The celebration of re-openings was 13 months after the civil unrest along the Lake Street corridor forced the businesses closed.


Just weeks before the civil unrest erupted on Lake Street in May 2020, Vanessa Machuca and her parents were busy at El Amor Fashion, the store they have operated for about 20 years.

The Machuca's were proud of the store at 511 E. Lake Street that specialized in special events fashion for men, women, and children.

Then the uprising started, Vanessa Machuca recalled.

The Machucas were not at the store when all hell began to break loose.

“I saw it on Facebook Live and on the news,” Vanessa recalled.

“We saw people breaking windows. We couldn’t believe what was happening to Lake Street,” she said.

“We had to go down to the store,” Vanessa said.

For seven days the Machucas didn’t leave.

“We were here a whole week. We were armed for our safety and the safety of our store,” she said.

The family slept at the store for a week as they protected the family’s livelihood.

“We were not going to let the store go down,” she said.

But the protesters and looters were out on the street in full force.

They were ready to come into El Amor Fashion, Vanessa recalled.

The windows of the store were broken by protesters. The Machucas boarded them right away.

But it was hard, strenuous work. The weight of the heavy pieces of plywood made protecting the store from further damage a taxing job.

El Amor Fashion fared better than a similar fashion store right down the street. That store was completely destroyed.

About two miles east at Midori’s Floating World Cafe at 2629 E. Lake Street, John and Midori Flomer were living their own nightmare.

“We watched it unfold from our front window,” John Flomer said.

The first night of the destruction and unrest outside their Japanese restaurant in what Midori calls downtown Longfellow was beyond imagination.

“The second night it was bigger. The third night even bigger,” John Flomer said.

Every business was shut down one by one, John recalled. Some because the owners closed the business, others because they were destroyed by the violence of unruly protesters- or in many cases, burned to the ground.

“Our building was secure. We had neighbors who helped us protect their businesses and ours,” John said of the early days of the unrest.

John and Midori believe that because their building had upper level apartments, pleas to protect the lives of the renters helped keep the building from being burned down. 

But in the days that followed, Midori’s Floating World Cafe was seriously looted and robbed, he said.

“We lost a lot of equipment,” John said.

Electricity wasn’t restored to Midori’s Floating World Cafe until seven months after the destructive week on East Lake Street.

Work on making the building habitable was moving slow.

In January 2021, the Flomers needed to make a decision about their future.

They decided to set up shop in the kitchen of the Seward Cafe at 2129 E. Franklin. The cafe remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its kitchen was available for rent.

The Flomers lifted Midori’s Floating World Cafe out of the ashes to create a take-out dining business. A free store and Food Share also rented the space.

On Saturday, June 24 as seven other businesses were celebrating their reopening, John and Midori Flomer had something to celebrate, too.

They had just signed a lease on a new restaurant.

“We hope to open in September,” John Flomer said.

The Flomers look forward to once again having their own place.

“We look forward to decorating as we want and having our own vibe,” John said.

“Midori reflected on how her original restaurant was decorated. She says it was very homespun.

“It was beautiful in there,” John said. “We look forward to decorating again.”


For nearly two hours on Saturday, June 26, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey walked Lake Street with District 5950 Rotarians and visited first-hand the businesses that were now reopening.

At Post Plus, the Mayor enjoyed fellowship with owner Amina Osman, and met the Midoris and learned about their business.

At El Amor Fashion, Frey enjoyed an impromptu fashion show that included a dress worn traditionally during a Quinceañera- the celebration of a teenage girl’s 15th birthday.

At Loteria Market, Frey joined owner Esteban Jimenez for a cold glass of homemade horchata. Across the street at Pineda Tacos Plus, Frey ordered a lunch entree from the restaurant’s expansive menu and visited with owner Luis Reyes.

At La Michoacana Purepecha, Frey and Rotarians enjoyed the homemade popsicles that owner Ricardo Hernandez Espinoza sells alongside his homemade ice cream.

Lunch was enjoyed at Los Andes, owned by Guillermo Quito and home of Ecuadorian, Columbian, and Peruvian food.

The visits were proof that Lake Street is recovering and reopening.

“Businesses are opening up again. We’re seeing things coming alive,” Mayor Frey told Rotarians during his stop at El Amor Fashion.


Rotarian volunteers from various professional backgrounds have for a few months brought resources to assist recovery of facilities, provide insurance audits, marketing, IT, financial assistance and more. 

The Lake Street Council connected John and Midori Flomer with Rotarians. The Rotary Club of Minneapolis #9 became the Rotary partner for Midori’s Floating World Cafe.

“They found us,” John Flomer said of the Lake Street Council. The Council then connected the restaurant owners with Rotary 5950.

And that’s how the Flomers met Gleason Glover of Club #9. Gleason became the collaboration’s point person.

“They put in contact with good people,” John Flomer said of the Rotarians.

John Flomer has appreciated the business advice, as well promotional work Rotary has been able to provide his business.

Gleason Glover said Club #9 has aided in marketing and helping rework Midori’s menu so the business can continue to thrive in the long-term.

“We are here to support them,” Glover said. “We are here when they need us.”

Across town at El Amor Fashion, owner Vanessa Machuca had never heard of Rotary until this past year.

Now she says she will never forget the organization. She will be forever grateful for the assistance and friendships made through Rotary and her sponsor, The Rotary Club of Eden Prairie A.M.

“At first it was scary and so intimidating asking for help,” Vanessa said.

But she reached out for help, despite being very shy and feeling intimidated.

“Rotary has helped my family accomplish our re-opening,” Vanessa said.

“They have been outgoing and supportive,” she said.

And through her new relationship with Rotary, Vanessa and her family gained something that will last a lifetime.

“Rotary helped us gain confidence, and because of that, I am sure we are still going to be here in 20 years,” she said.