New Cafe Hiring People With Disabilities Opens in New Jersey
A new cafe in New Jersey that hires and trains people with intellectual disabilities for the restaurant industry is now open for business.
On Wednesday, No Limits Cafe opened for its first lunch service in Middletown, New Jersey. The cafe is staffed by about 30 people with intellectual disabilities, who are trained in the business alongside professional chefs and volunteers. Disabled workers receive at least minimum wage. The cafe will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, by reservation only. For a $20 donation, lunch includes soup, a meal and a drink.
The cafe was co-founded by Stephanie Cartier, who has a 21-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. According to PIX 11, Cartier’s daughter struggled to find meaningful employment after she graduated from high school.
“When you turn 21, it’s called falling off the cliff,” said Cartier. “And there’s not a lot of meaningful employment for people with intellectual disabilities, not a lot of college programs. So we decided, let’s figure out something to do.”
Cartier’s experience is one many other families face when children with disabilities become adults. A U.S. Department of Labor Survey found that only about 20% of people with disabilities were employed. In comparison, nearly 70% of the general population is employed. People with disabilities are also less likely to find full-time work and face negative stereotypes about their ability to learn and competently participate in the workforce.
As a result, many people with disabilities create their own opportunities, like John Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks or Will Howell of WillPower Ties. No Limits Cafe also joins other cafe and coffee shop businesses across the country started by families that aim to provide the same opportunity for people with disabilities to work as their peers.
As No Limits Cafe gets off the ground, the nonprofit plans to host evening workshops to train other people with disabilities how to work in the restaurant industry. Not only will employees work at the cafe, No Limits is also working with other restaurants in the community to hire trained employees with disabilities. So far, according to its website, three places expressed interest in hiring No Limits Cafe workshop trainees.
Header image via No Limits Cafe’s Instagram