We're in the business of feeding people...and that's not exclusive to the guest dining in our restaurants.
Our corporate purpose is to end poverty and increase food access in the Midlands. Every time you dine with us, you're supporting one of the initiatives below enabling us to Feed the city, the community, and the local economy.
Feeding the Community
Ending poverty starts with creating opportunity in the community for those who often go overlooked and most likely need it most. We are committed to helping train those looking to take a step up.
Develop a Workforce
Our 40-week Hospitality Workforce Development Program, provides hands-on training and growth for Columbia’s non-college bound youth. The program begins with workforce development training at the most basic level supported by legal counseling, financial advisement, and social work services before providing them with opportunities to learn the skills required to enter the culinary workforce and eventually grow into leaders.
This requires more than talented culinary teachers. It requires accomplished chefs, servers, leaders, and business support staff who are also highly trained with the soft skills necessary to create a deeper connection with these trainees, show compassion to the circumstances from which they’ve come, and have patience and a commitment to their development.
Commitment to community is one of the guiding principles of our business. Participants in the workforce development program are paid a stipend for participation upon meeting a community-giving requirement so they don’t have to choose to pursue the opportunity over financially contributing to their household. This provides local organizations, which often serve to increase food access and equity in their own communities, with able volunteers to extend their reach.
In a partnership with Richland Library - winner of the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service – we offer a Culinary Residency Program, a four-month rotating residency for minority food entrepreneurs interested in taking the next step towards opening and operating their own business.
This program gives young entrepreneurs a lower risk opportunity to experience running the day-to-day of the café at Richland Library before investing their own capital or seeking out a loan to fund their learning experience.
Work/Train Program for Homeless in Transition
In 2019, we will offer a 12-week Work & Train Program designed to specifically help Transitions’ clients get back on their feet so they may move into permanent housing.
Feeding the City
Our business exists to feed people. Thankfully, the guests paying for meals in our restaurants allows for us to extend our dining room out to the remote neighborhoods in the city.
Food produced during the hands-on training part of the program will be used to prepare Summer Feeding or At-Risk After School Meals for kids in need, with the goal of feeding at least 1000 kids throughout 2019.
We know the power of teaching a man to fish. We serve as advocates for No Kid Hungry and their initiatives and have incorporated supporting Cooking Matters - a series of free cooking classes designed for feeding families fresh foods on a budget - into our training.
Imagine the ripple effect we can see when one of the trainees learns not only to cook, but how to teach others to cook and can take that back to their own communities throughout Columbia.
Decrease Food Deserts
There is one grocery store among the 60 plus square miles of the city's poorest zip code. We are committed to helping the city eradicate food deserts in Columbia but know national grocery chains don't invest in markets that aren't thriving. This is how we got here to begin with!
While we are helping to support the membership drive for the City Foods Cooperative Marketplace, a community owned grocery store being developed to serve this community, we recognize the immediate need for fresh food can't be put on hold for 18 months.
Therefore, we work to assist our partners at FoodShare with fresh produce distribution, and support the Seeds of Hope Farmers Market initiative.
Employees who demonstrate excellence at work AND a commitment to community our community partners have a higher chance of being promoted. Employees going above and beyond in the community may also qualify for rewards or incentives usually awarded when reaching sales and or teamwork goals.
Feeding the Economy
We conservatively estimate our restaurant group will contribute over $2 million annually to our local economy.
Our goal is to create 80 live-able wage jobs by the end of 2018. Once we’ve completed the pilot, we aim to graduate 40 participants annually from the Culinary Workforce Development Program.
With every decision we make, we ask ourselves have we done everything we can to put money back into the local economy?
Many small farmers live at or below the poverty line. They struggle to grow their business and face marketing and distribution challenges. We've connected with some of the area's most talented and vulnerable growers and committed to annual produce purchases from these small, minority-owned farms throughout the Midlands.
Instead of using a national partner for our linen service, we made the investment to buy the inventory and partner with a local laundry service employing members of the homeless community working their way into permanent housing.
We've also partnered with a local woodworking expert to host carpentry classes for those looking to explore the trade as a career. Instead of purchasing furniture from a large pre-fab company, we opt to employ these students whenever possible for tables, chairs, shelving, and other decor for our restaurants.
Shape Financial Futures
We understand the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit is to thrive in today's economy. Through a partnership with South Carolina Community Bank, we're helping our employees open checking and savings accounts, as well as educating them on the best practices for managing their money!
Whether we invest in them personally or partner with them to open their own concepts, it is important for us to assist minorities with a vision for owning their own business in acquiring the necessary experience and have access to the capital required to bring their dreams to life.