A Little Time and a Keyboard: Curt's Cafe: a cozy nook in Evanston with a mission

Curt's Cafe: a cozy nook in Evanston with a mission

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Last month, we had the pleasure of visiting Curt's Cafe in Evanston. Curt's Cafe pairs a warm cozy cafe, perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack, along with a purpose.When you walk into Curt's Cafe, you will immediately embrace its relaxing atmosphere. Curt's is the ideal place to grab a cup of joe or a scone and power up to get a little computer work done!

Beyond functioning as a delightful cafe, Curt's provides restaurant training for at-risk youth in the Evanston area. Curt's provides a positive atmosphere where youth can learn important skills to aid in future employment and a productive future.

Susan Trieschmann, the Executive Director and driving force behind Curt's, enthusiastically shared her cafe with us. We sat down in Curt's comfortable space with some wonderful tea, coffee and even a green smoothie to talk with Susan, Lori (Director of Community Relations) and one of the students. Everyone was very personable and truly added to Curt's "neighborhood cafe" atmosphere. Here is what we learned about Curt's:

Mel's take: Susan used the word "incubator" while chatting with us. Upon reflecting on our visit, I see the cafe as a multi-purpose incubator. The cafe is not only an incubator for the skills of at-risk youth but also for the neighborhood as a whole. Locals can come together for a coffee or a sandwich and enjoy some time together or even have a light business meeting. Additionally, Curt's Cafe serves as a small business incubator by allowing another aspiring food business, Just 8 Pizzeria, share the space in the evenings. Curt's Cafe fosters so many purposes all at the same time!

Additionally, Curt's students learn much more than food service skills at the cafe. The youth engage in workshops that teach them important life skills. Some of these workshops include GED preparation, tutoring and ways to nurture the mind, body and spirit. Youth at Curt's will also get to cultivate a garden this summer and use some of the yield in their culinary adventures. Overall, the cafe provides at-risk youth with a positive place to foster skills that will set them on a productive path.

Susan's dedication to her mission changes lives. Some of the students have found other employment in food service and maintain contact with Susan. While munching on delectable scones (blueberry and a feta one inspired by a student), we met one of the students working at Curt's. She was very enthusiastic and excited about learning at the cafe. All of this enthusiasm comes through in the whole atmosphere of Curt's Cafe.

Kat's take: How can you not want to support a small business that was founded to give back to the community?  With restorative justice as its mission, Curt's Cafe has been dishing out coffee, tea, smoothies and yummy sandwiches and baked goods for about a year.

The space is pleasant; there is an adjoining room to the cafe that has couches, a small stage and a piano.  It's a place you could easily spend a couple of hours, working on your laptop and sipping java. Frankly, for me, the yummy green smoothie I tried makes me want to make the drive there every day!

You may not suspect that founder Susan Trieschmann's purpose here is to get at-risk youth off the streets and give them a chance to succeed in life.  Kids are trained in restaurant service (along with needed life skills and reading skills), get to talk to a volunteer social worker and are paid a stipend. The hope is to get them a job and on the right track.  While not everyone can be saved from taking the wrong path, the safe haven that is Curt's Cafe is - for some of these kids - a life changer

Curt's Cafe is located at 2922 Central St. in Evanston. Curt's is open Monday-Saturday, 7:30AM-3:00PM. It is closed on Sunday.

**Disclosure: We did receive complimentary menu items to facilitate our review. No other compensation was received for this review. All opinions are 100% our own.

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