“The homeless demographic [is] changing… our homeless population was getting younger and they were unskilled workers,” says Nicole Pena the director of marketing and public relations for The Phoenix Rescue Mission.
As a part of the mission’s recovery objective, future employees are a part of a “transformations” program that seeks to integrate people back into the workforce. The first 30 days of the program are spent working on the “foundations” of recovery and beginning a 12 step program. Then, after six months participants can choose either a workforce training track, or to enroll in a GED program or college courses. If they choose the kitchen management track, they’ll receive eight months of training: four months in a classroom and four months at the restaurant.
The Mission Possible Cafe is located at 15th Avenue just north of Van Buren Street in what used to be the Oaxaca Restaurante y Cantina. As a way of honoring the history of the building, the restaurant will serve Mexican-fusion style food with street tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc. with a heathy twist. For example, the restaurant will serve quinoa instead of rice and feature a variety of green chile-inspired dishes.
Pena describes the atmosphere inside the restaurant as bright and welcoming. There’s a large mural on the wall and photos of the program’s graduates and their children. Pena says it’s a place she hopes will inspire change and help prove people can turn their lives around.
The Mission Possible Cafe will have a soft opening from October 2-13 and will be asking their first group of customers to rate their food and overall experience.