Ann Eloe and Kim Williams greet customers who walk into Cafe Too with smiles and warmth, just as you would expect in any neighborhood.
But when you’re served a delicious blackened salmon sandwich with hand-cut sweet potato fries, you start to think that maybe this restaurant is a cut above your usual quick lunch spot.
And it is. Cafe Too is so much more.
Its mission is to serve people on both sides of the counter. They serve their customers delicious food in a beautiful, sunny space. And they help homeless and low-income people earn higher-paying jobs in the restaurant and catering industry through their 13-week culinary training program.
Cafe Too, run by Inspiration Corporation, is on Sheridan Road in Uptown. It gives the neighborhood a much-needed spot for a quick pastry and coffee on the way to the train or a more leisurely sit-down lunch featuring salads, creative sandwiches and even a hearty burger.
For dinner, Cafe Too is more of a destination; a perfect stop if you’re on your way downtown for a show or event. The pre-fixe menu–reasonable $18 for three courses or $24 for five–changes weekly according to the seasons. Recently, the team of culinary trainees made herb-roasted chicken breast served over roasted red potatoes. The restaurant is BYOB and kid-friendly with a children’s menu.
Delicious Food Is Just One Reason To Visit Cafe Too
Ann and Kim are two of the many success stories that Cafe Too can claim. They both completed the training program, which includes five weeks of classroom training and eight weeks of on-the-job experience, then went on to find full-time jobs in catering and restaurants before coming back to Cafe Too as paid employees.
“I was so depressed when I lost my car and my apartment,” Enloe says. “I had no hope until I found Inspiration Corporation and started this program.” Eloe is Cafe Too’s barista, and she pulls an espresso with skill and confidence. She now lives in the neighborhood in her own apartment.
Culinary Skills = Jobs At Livable Wages
“Our students learn how a professional kitchen works, and they also learn to manage a schedule and employer expectations,” says Kate Wiechmann, manager of the restaurant.
Along with culinary training, Inspiration Corporation also provides students with employment skills training and job placement assistance. More than 77 percent of graduates have found jobs and kept them for more than 60 days‚Äîa success rate Wiechmann is hopeful they will be able to maintain.
“Cafe Too gave me a sense of direction and a strong feeling of self worth,” says Williams, who just celebrated her one-year anniversary of employment there. She says she’s thrilled to be married, employed, housed and happy ‚Äî a changed life because of one restaurant and people who believe that everyone deserves skills and a chance to work.
Cafe Too serves breakfast and lunch daily; weekend meals are brunch and dinner. For menus and hours, visit their website: www.cafetoo.org.