By Alison Bailin Batz / Photos by Dana Vollmer Brown
On any given day, Phoenix Rescue Mission provides emergency overnight shelter for men as well as three meals per day for them through the community kitchen, clean clothing, hygiene items for men and women, spiritual care, vocational assessment, job placement and counseling. Each week, the nonprofit also provides food box distribution to families in need.
“Our mission is to provide a new beginning for men, women and children in the community who are struggling with homelessness, addiction and trauma,” says Jay A. Cory, president and CEO of Phoenix Rescue Mission. “Many people who enter Phoenix Rescue Mission have little to no job experience. For this reason, the organization now takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation.”
Rather than solely focusing on the sobriety of the clients, it also assists with job training through the vocational development program. Enter the Mission Possible Café, which opened October 2 in Downtown Phoenix.
The new 4,000-square-foot eatery, owned and operated by Phoenix Rescue Mission, offers Southwestern-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on Mexican grilled items for breakfast and lunch. It will focus on strong customer service, as well as quality food at affordable prices. Think quick and casual for lunch or takeout dinner, plus specialty espressos, great drip coffee and light pastries in the morning.
The vibe and design of the venue are light and bright, and the restaurant’s logo – which is painted prominently on one of the interior walls, was designed by students from Arizona State University. Inscribed on another wall is the phrase “Hope begins with a meal,” and for good reason.
The most interesting element to the new venue (which is also the home to the nonprofit’s offices, classrooms, storage and meeting rooms) is that it employs seven full-time staff members, the other 10 “employees” will actually be clients of Phoenix Rescue Mission who are taking part in the organization’s vocational development program, an eight-month course designed to get people in need back on their feet. Students from Grand Canyon University’s hospitality program, who were once Phoenix Rescue Mission participants themselves, will also be involved by interning in the front of the house.
The program begins with four months of classes, where men and women learn about food service and gain other practical skills. It concludes with four months of practical application when participants can work at the cafe. The goal? To prepare people for the workforce and to give them the ability to give back using service.
“Each participant will learn food service operations, develop leadership skills, and be prepared for successful placement in management level positions in the food service industry,” Cory explains.
Mission Possible Café is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located at 1516 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix; 602.688.6240; www.missionpossiblecafe.com.