Chef Chad Houser is about to open Café Momentum in Dallas, Texas, and he’s easily got some of the most unique hiring criteria around. Not only does he hire former juvenile offenders as his staff, but he also lets them run the whole operation.
While Chef Houser is the executive chef, some of the kids get to be his right-hand men and oversee kitchen functions. For 12 months, they work as cooks, menu-makers, taste testers, and waiters, gaining job experience that leads to becoming part of the Café Momentum family. Beyond culinary skills, the kids are taught lessons on subjects like finance, anger management, social media and art.
Chef Houser cares about the development of the whole person, and as a result he’s giving these kids the opportunity to gain valuable life lessons that they can take with them after their restaurant internship.
The motto of the restaurant is “eat, drink, change lives” and it’s doing just that. With pop-up dinners, a crowdfunding campaign, and generous donors, Café Momentum has raised $1 million from the Dallas community. By helping at-risk youth, the cafe is ensuring reduced recidivism – the likelihood these kids will commit more crimes – and saving the city from bearing the costs of future incarcerations. To date, Café Momentum has saved the City of Dallas $8 million!
So far there have been 164 kids from ages 13-17 employed by the pop-up dinners, and the future brick-and-mortar restaurant will employ 30 to 35 youths during each 12-month period. We’re so inspired by Chef Houser’s attitude of taking initiative to change lives. “Somebody’s gotta believe in them. Might as well be me.”