Last week, the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware celebrated the grand opening of its very first café, located in Newark. Named DSA Café, it was created in order to help train adults with Down syndrome how to work in the food and customer-service industries through a unique paid-internship program.
Over the course of the three month program, directors will teach the interns the skills needed to work at other local stores and restaurants. Noah Bradshaw, one of seven adults with Down syndrome in the first intern class, stated that he is “very very excited” to be part of the program.
The kitchen training portion of the program is directed by Executive Chef Rob Taylor, who previously worked in corporate dining. The father of a boy with Down syndrome, Rob joined the team at DSA Café to help individuals like his son. At the opening, Taylor shared about some of his goals for the program:
“It’s going to help create an awareness of safety in the kitchen, as well as [teach them] the culinary recipes . . . [so they are] able not only to take those skills home with them and prepare meals for their family, but [it will] also hopefully cultivate an understanding of what it’s going to take to work in a real kitchen in some capacity.”
Michael Quaranta, President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, also attended the opening, and shared some words of encouragement with the interns:
“Twenty months ago, there were a lot of signs on these windows that all said ‘closed,’ and they were closed for a very, very long time. Today, you can’t go anywhere without seeing ‘help wanted’ signs. So guys, gals: we need everybody… Populations that are frequently overlooked, we cannot overlook any longer. It’s my hope that we can take these folks from where they are to where they want to be, because we need every single one of you.”
The café is now open Monday through Friday, and offers a variety of breakfast, lunch, and catering options. Customers will also be able to peruse the small retail shop located at the same location, which features objects created by those within the Down syndrome community.