Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 19 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Branwalator of Jersey
home iconInspiring Stories
line break icon

San Francisco’s Old Skool Café serves more than great food

oldskoolcafe.org

Zelda Caldwell - published on 04/09/17

At-risk youth run the restaurant and get a second chance at success.

Founded five years ago in one of the most economically disadvantaged neighborhood of San Francisco, Old Skool Cafe calls itself a “youth-run, jazz-themed, supper club.” Come for the food, which receives rave reviews, but leave inspired when you meet the staff.

Each young person who works at Old Skool Cafe was referred by probation officers from the juvenile justice corrections system. And they really do run the place, according to an article by Kate Schmidgall for Bittersweet Monthly.

Old Skool Cafe

“They do everything: hosting, serving, bussing, cooking, plating, cleaning, ordering, managing … and caring for one another,” Schmidgall writes.

The project was dreamed up 15 years ago by Teresa Goines, a former corrections officer who wanted to find a way to end the cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration that afflicts so many young people in California’s cities. Goines ran a gang prevention plan in San Francisco, and became familiar with the problems that affect urban youth.

“A lot of young men had a grandfather or dad that have been incarcerated, and some even had babies that they would dress in gang colors,” Goines told Bittersweet. “They are born into it. Sometimes all of their family is gang-affiliated, and they’re taught that the only way to survive is by selling drugs. It’s normal, so how are they supposed to know differently? And they also feel like they are turning their back on their family if they say ‘No, I don’t want be in the gang.’”

Old Skool Cafe

Having a criminal record makes it exceedingly difficult to find a job. Goines founded Old Skool in order to give “young people hope, economic opportunities and training in a supportive environment where they could grow emotionally, physically and spiritually,” according to Schmidgall.

Goines told Bittersweet that her “heart and passion” is “helping young people heal at the core, versus punishing them for things they were born into.”

Old Skool Cafe

In five years, the data shows that it’s been a great success. Bittersweet reports that the recidivism rate for youth at Old Skool Cafe has been just 10 percent, compared to the national rate of 76 percent (according to Bureau of Justice Statistics). Even more encouraging, perhaps, are signs that Old Skool staff have been able to turn their lives around:

So far 92 percent of Old Skool kids have earned high school diplomas and 94 percent are employed or focused solely on school, including thirteen now attending college. Twenty-five youth are currently employed at Old Skool, with another thirty in training each year.

And what about the food? The description in Bittersweet sounds spectacular: fall-off-the bone ribs with chipotle sauce, sweet potato dumplings swimming in a hot chimichurri sauce with portabella mushrooms and smoked dates, and a brownie sundae drizzled in a sort of toffee-caramel sauce. In collaboration with Old Skool’s coaches, the dishes are created by the kids and recipes are often borrowed from their own families.

Read the rest of the story here, and make plans to visit.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
2
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
3
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
Reasons Catholics should read the Bible
4
SAINT RITA CASCIA
Bret Thoman, OFS
Traces of miracles remain at the birthplace of St. Rita of Cascia
5
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's formula for defeating evil in the world
6
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
'An American Blessed': A documentary to thank God in 2021
7
FORGIVING COUPLE
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.