Aside from making a profit by serving delicious coffee, this cafe in Texas is set on fulfilling another mission – bettering the lives of former foster youths.
The aptly-named La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas built its business model around providing job opportunities to the youth who have aged out of the foster care system. So far, the restaurant has employed nine former foster kids who faced rough times after turning 18 years old.
Many foster kids are left without proper support once they age out of the foster care system, rendering most of them homeless. In Texas alone, over 1,200 youth aged out of the system in 2019, and many of them ended up on the streets.
Across the country, around 20,000 youth age out of the system annually. Only 50% successfully find jobs, and 20% instantly become homeless, according to the National Foster Youth Institute.
That situation is exactly what Francois Reihani wants to save them from. The 24-year-old entrepreneur came up with the idea of launching the café’s business model after he attended an informational meeting for a local non-profit group catering to foster kids in Texas.
Now, his restaurant doubles as a place that gives job opportunities to at-risk youth and a safe haven that provides a support system to all its employees.
“We’re not in the business of coffee, we just serve coffee—we’re definitely in the business of kindness,” Reihani told CBS News.
His hope is that other small businesses will adopt a similar program. Ciara Morton, one of the former foster youth employed at La La Land, says that having a job at the coffee shop brought her out of homelessness and depression. Finding employment might be a simple feat for others, but for the 20-year-old, working at the restaurant which she calls “home” has changed her life.
“I have people to believe in me and support me. I’ve never had that kind of support in my life. So I’ve been able to believe in myself and realize what I want in life and chase after it,” she told CBSDFW.
Ciara lived with a foster family after her father sexually abused her when she was 15. The memory of what happened still pains her, but she is trying to put everything behind and move forward. Now one of the happiest baristas behind the counter, Ciara is looking into getting her GED and pursuing higher education.
Reihani’s goal is to equip the youth with valuable skills that they can use in real life through the life skills program. It helps young people learn accounting, kitchen skills, customer relations, and social skills, according to the café’s website.
The cafe business owner admits that the mentorship program cuts into his profits, but he has a life philosophy that he abides by. He said, “there’s a balance in life, right? We have a duty to our society to help the ones who are in need, right?”
Watch the video below to learn more about La La Land Kind Café’s story.
This café is the perfect example of a business with a heart!