Palo Alto cafe employing adults with disabilities asking for community support

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ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Palo Alto cafe employing adults with disabilities asking for community support
A Palo Alto cafe that employs adults with disabilities is asking for community support due to rising food and labor costs.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Many people know Ada's Café as a social enterprise that aims to make a difference in the lives of others. However, as food and labor costs continue to rise, there's growing concern over how much longer the business can operate in its current capacity, so they're making a plea to the community for additional support.

"We compete everyday against some of the largest, best known brands in the business because we're a coffee-cafe operation," said Tony Hughes, Ada's Café board member.

In 2003, Hughes' wife, Kathleen, opened a student-run café at Terman Middle School after realizing there were limited vocational education options for students. She continued building on the program, and helped expand it to Gunn High School. Their son, Charlie, who is developmentally disabled, was the initial inspiration behind it, as well as the decision to open Ada's Café, a place where adults with disabilities could work in safe space.

The café opened at Mitchell Park Community Center in 2014, and since then more than 130 employees have been hired, including 66 people with disabilities.

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"My favorite part is seeing all of the customers and all the regulars that come in every day," said assistant manager-in-training Todd Cerf, who has been working at the café for nearly four years.

However, the café could soon be faced with closing its doors. In addition to a rise in food and labor costs, the new landlord of the non-profit organization's commercial kitchen in Mountain View, where some of the food for the café is prepared, recently hiked the rent by 60 percent. It's been a challenging combination for the team to navigate.

Staff members are grateful for the support they've received over the years, but they're now hoping more people will stop by to show some love, whether it's dropping by to dine, or to simply make a donation.

"What I love most is getting to work alongside some truly amazing people," said Peter Hughes, Ada's Café deputy director. "They teach me something every day, they learn something from me, and it's this great symbiotic relationship, and I wouldn't trade it for the world."

Ada's Café is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

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