- Many restaurants around the world hire people from marginalized communities.
- There are multiple restaurants that focus on employing people who were previously incarcerated.
- Other restaurants hire people who are deaf or people who have visual impairments.
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Restaurants around the country, and around the world, are thinking beyond food and putting people first, focusing not just on serving great meals but also making a change in their community. One of the main ways restaurants are achieving this is by hiring people from marginalized communities who often don’t have access to job training or fair-wage jobs.
Here are 16 restaurants that are hiring staff from marginalized communities.
Emma’s Torch in Brooklyn, New York, empowers refugees.
This Brooklyn spot serves up new American food prepared by refugees. Emma’s Torch gives refugees a leg up in their new country by providing them with culinary training as part of a 12-week paid apprenticeship complete with English classes.
Upon graduation, many of the students are placed in other restaurants to really hone their craft and start a new career in their adopted country.
SAMPLES in Longmont, Colorado, hires people with disabilities.
SAMPLES offers up delicious food (they’ve been on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” for their poutine burger and Korean BBQ sandwich), great beer (they’ve been Awarded best craft beer bar in Colorado by CraftBeer.com) and promotes a great working environment for people with disabilities.
The restaurant is an extension of the Samples Supports program, which was established to help people with disabilities find jobs and resources they need to be independent and employs more than 300 people with disabilities.
Cala in San Francisco, California, hires people who were formerly incarcerated.
Celebrated Mexican restaurant Cala generated lots of pre-opening buzz when it was announced that 70% of its staff would be made up of people who used to be incarcerated – most of them with zero experience in the culinary world. The staffing is made up of both front-of-house and back-of-house positions.
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop in Wilmington, North Carolina, employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Amy Wright and her husband are parents to four children, the youngest two, Beau and Bitty, have Down syndrome. The Wrights opened Beau’s coffee in January 2016 as a place where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can work and build a future for themselves.
In July 2016, Beau’s Coffee was renamed to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee to honor Beau’s birthday wish that his namesake coffee shop also honors his sister. Today the Wright’s have expanded to an additional two locations which together with the original employ a total of 60 people with IDD to help run the shops.
Second Shot Coffee in London, UK, aims to hire people experiencing homelessness.
Second Shot Coffee focuses on hiring people experiencing homeless to try and end the cycle of poverty. The coffee shop hires and trains people with no experience and then connects them with other work opportunities when they are ready to move on.
Patrons of the store can also pay it forward by pre-paying for food or drinks that are later given to people experiencing homelessness who stop by, free of charge.
Edwins Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, hires and trains people who were formerly incarcerated.
Edwins Restaurant is an extension of the EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute which gives people who used to be incarcerated a start in the culinary and hospitality world so they can find long-term employment.
The institute not only teaches its students culinary skills, it also assists them with finding jobs upon graduation, provides free housing, legal services, basic medical care, literacy programs, and more. Students work at the restaurant during training and perfect their skills.
Mozzeria in San Francisco, California, aims to lower the unemployment rate of people who are deaf.
There are plenty of great pizza spots in San Francisco, but Mozzeria is the only one that is completely staffed by members of the deaf community. The owners and founders of Mozzeria, Melody and Russell Stein, are both deaf and have made it a point to employ people who are also deaf in order to provide them with an often hard-to-find job.
The restaurant has been such a success that it is now opening up franchises to not only serve great pizza but also to help lower the 70% underemployment and unemployment rate among the deaf community in the US.
The waitstaff at Dark Table in Calgary, Canada, are visually impaired.
Like other dark or blind dining restaurants, Dark Table offers diners a unique dining experience during which they can only rely on four out of five senses and have to navigate their meal without their eyes.
Here the waitstaff is made up of people who are blind or visually impaired.
Hugs Cafe in McKinney, Texas is operated by adults with disabilities.
Hugs Cafe is a non-profit restaurant that is run and operated primarily by adults with disabilities. Ruth Thompson, founder and president, worked within the disabled community for years and decided to open up a space where people from this community could acquire new skills. Hugs Cafe opened in 2013.
Here the team works in both front-of-house and back-of-house positions and each individual gains valuable skills which can open the door for other employment should they choose to venture beyond Hugs.
Hot Bread Kitchen in New York City, New York, empowers women through baking.
Hot Bread Kitchen is a bakery that is run by and teaches women from all walks of life the tricks of the baking trade. Here women from all over, many immigrants and from low-income backgrounds, join HBK’s culinary training program to learn baking skills and other cooking techniques.
100% of students in the program are trained and then placed in fair-wage jobs with access to benefits and room to grow.
Howdy Homemade in Dallas, Texas, offers jobs to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Located in Dallas, and now with a franchise in Salt Lake City, Howdy Homemade is an ice cream shop that offers employment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
The ice cream parlor teams up with local disability organizations to hire, train, and employ people with autism and Down syndrome in an effort to provide those individuals with gainful employment and in hopes of educating people who may not know someone from those communities.
The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton in London, UK, trains people who have been and are currently incarcerated.
The Clink Restaurant helps people get ahead before they even finish their prison sentence. The restaurant formally trains people who are incarcerated, offers them a chance to get qualifications within the food industry, and helps them find a job once they’re released.
In addition to the food, the tables and chairs at the restaurant are made by people who are incarcerated and poems around the restaurant were written by graduates of the program.
The food also has rave reviews. The location at HMP Brixton consistently places in the top 10 restaurants in London on TripAdvisor.
Global Café in Memphis, Tennessee, hires refugees and immigrants.
Global Café is a food hall that celebrates the diverse backgrounds of its staff. The three chefs are refugees and immigrants hailing from Sudan, Nepal, and Syria and all have added dishes from their home countries to the menu.
The rest of the employees at this eclectic spot are also immigrants coming from countries like Bhutan, Mexico, Nepal, Somalia, Switzerland, and Zambia, to name a few.
Vinny & Bay’s Coffee and Eatery in Panama City, Florida, was created by two best friends.
Vinny & Bay’s was created by Kara Rigby and her daughter Madeline Lovejoy. The shop was inspired by Baylee Hanson, Lovejoy’s best friend, who has Down syndrome. Lovejoy knew Hanson and others with disabilities had trouble finding employment, so she wanted to open a shop where they could work, according to the News Herald.
The cafe employs a whole staff of adults with disabilities and provides a safe space for people from the community to gather. Vinny & Bays has been so successful that it’s set to open a second location in Georgia.
The FareStart Restaurants in Seattle, Washington, are staffed by people living below the poverty line.
FareStart is an organization that has several restaurants, cafes, and catering programs staffed by people from the homeless community and people living below the poverty line. At FareStart, trainees are taught work and life skills needed to thrive in the food service industry and given the tools they need to succeed, including housing assistance, child-care assistance, and mental-health counseling.
The organization also partners with local restaurants to ensure that graduates can find a stable job upon completion of the program.
Bloom Cafe in St. Louis, Missouri, offers paid internships and full-time jobs to people with disabilities.
Bloom Cafe partners with Paraquad, an organization that focuses on empowering people with disabilities, to help people with a disability prepare for employment.
The cafe is part of a three-stage program in which participants are trained to handle food and work in the service industry, participate in a paid internship at Bloom Cafe and other participating restaurants, and then placed in a full-time job.