We got there at a quiet time, perfect for Max
Our waiter, Drake, couldn't have been more attentive and charming. I ordered the Pretzel Crusted Chicken Club, Sabrina had Chicken Fingers, Max got mac and cheese (it wasn't actually on the menu, but they kindly improvised). It was all delicious.
Dave had the House Special Salad, a mix of veggies, cranberries, sunflower seeds, black olives, and feta cheese, topped with ahi tuna.
The Pouring of the Ketchup
I first found out about the café on the CNN blog Eatocracy. When we were finished eating, I told Dave, Max, and Sabrina what it's about (well, besides Good Food): "People with special needs are trained here to get restaurant jobs, and then some end up working here, including our waiter," I said. "Oh, wow, he has special needs? And he is a waiter?" Sabrina asked. "Yes," I said. "Wow! Cool!" she said.
Harvest Café is owned and run by A Very Special Place (AVSP), a non-profit that provides programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Staff photo with a celeb visitor
The café is decorated with artwork made by people in AVSP programs.
Max was interested in taking home a souvenir: a bottle of ketchup.
I'd wanted to visit to show the kids that people with special needs can have good jobs. I needed to see for myself, too. These kinds of gigs are rare (although this summer I read about Tim's Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque owned by a man with Down syndrome). In general, there's a high unemployment rate among people with disabilities, 13.5% last month according to the U.S. Department of Labor, compared to 7.3% for people without disabilities. But places like this give me hope. We need more, more, more of them.
You can check out the cafés weekly menus and hours on The Harvest Cafe Facebook page; they do parties, and catering, too. We'll be back, for sure.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking the world could use a Max 'n Cheese restaurant.