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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Facing economic pressures, Ada's Cafe makes plea for donations

Uploaded: Jul 11, 2018
In the face of rising rent and labor costs, Palo Alto's Ada's Cafe, which employs adults with developmental disabilities, is seeking donations from the community to keep its doors open.

The founder of the cafe sent a plea to donors this week asking for financial support.

In June, the cafe's Mountain View commercial kitchen was sold to a new owner, who raised the rent by 60 percent, founder Kathleen Foley-Hughes and deputy director Peter Hughes wrote in the message to supporters. On July 1, the city's minimum wage increased to $15 per hour — equivalent to a 15 percent pay increase for all Ada's Cafe employees. These two changes, plus $15,000 in major equipment repairs in the past month, have produced an untenable situation for the cafe.

"Ada's is continuing to do a tremendous job in delivering on its mission and we want to continue our work, but it is simply not possible to pass all of these costs on to our customers," they wrote.


Ada's Cafe founder Kathleen Foley-Hughes, left center; son Charlie Hughes, center; and Todd Cerf, right, at the cafe in 2017. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Since opening at the Mitchell Park Community Center in 2014, the cafe has employed 66 adults with developmental disabilities and 33 high schoolers, plus dozens of others as interns and volunteers. The cafe serves pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee, tea and other casual fare.

Ada's entirely funds its wage-related program, training and costs of goods from revenue from the cafe and catering. The nonprofit also operates a second cafe in San Francisco.

Foley-Hughes said the nonprofit is feeling the squeeze "in every aspect of running the business."

"The rent is one piece of the challenge. Labor costs are rising, which on the one hand we are happy about for our employees but now we are feeling the price increases from all of our suppliers because they are raising their prices, as well," she wrote in an email. "We can't raise our prices enough to cover the cost increases so we have reached out to donors to see if they would like to help."


Ada's Cafe opened at the Mitchell Park Community Center in 2014. Photo by Michelle Le.

Ada's "provides career employment to some of the most marginalized members of our community and society," wrote Foley-Hughes, whose son has a developmental disability. The workers' disabilities range include traumatic brain injuries, Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.

Adults with developmental disabilities represent one of the fastest growing segments of the population and face high unemployment rates — as high as 80 percent, she said.

The nonprofit also conducts research on how to improve workplaces for people with disabilities and on hiring, training and empowering people with disabilities in the commercial food service industry.

Ada's Cafe won this year's Tall Tree Award for Outstanding Nonprofit and was recognized by the California State Assembly as the 2017 Small Business of the Year.

Those who would like to donate can send a check payable to Ada's Cafe to 839 Northampton Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94303 or contribute electrically at adascafe.org.

"I remain hopeful," Foley-Hughes said.

Comments

 +   24 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Unfortunately, it looks like Ada's will be another victim of the idiotic minimum wage increases. Nice going, liberals! You are now reaping what you sowed.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by charles reilly, a resident of another community,
on Jul 11, 2018 at 4:27 pm

This seems like a good cause, and I appreciate and respect Elena for publicizing it. I'm sure many local businesses would be happy to kick in some money. Menlo Park is a prosperous community. I would personally help with this effort.

Yesterday in Redwood City, at a local produce market, there was a food truck selling hamburgers for $10.00 ea. But ... Many local residents can afford to pay for quality fast food; and that is the American way ! Many restaurants do not succeed and it's too bad Ada's Cafe was not able to make more money.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 11, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Rising Rents and Rising Labor Costs are the demise of many a fine business in Palo Alto. The economics of running a small business is difficult if not impossible. Big chains, self serve checkouts, automated kitchens, counter service eateries, are what we will get because they can cut their costs.

Even non-profits have to compete with economics. It comes to something when a cafe asks for donations to keep in business.

Fact of Life, unfortunately.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by did read it, a resident of another community,
on Jul 11, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Unfortunately, it looks like Ada's will be another victim of greedy landlord rent increases. Nice going, conservatives! You are now reaping what you sowed.

Hey @reader, you should actually read the article!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Diner, a resident of another community,
on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm

I bought a sandwich in San Jose the other day and they snuck in a "minimum wage surcharge" on my final bill. So now we're expected to tip AND pay a surcharge?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Diner, a resident of another community,
on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Just to add to the above, received the surcharge at a different sandwich shop. Not Ada's Cafe.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:46 pm

> Unfortunately, it looks like Ada's will be another victim of the idiotic minimum wage increases.

Why do you seem to think it's such an improvement that we do not see the people dropping out and becoming homeless or not able to work because they cannot afford to live, to house, clothe, feed, education and get health care for themselves. Better to have the faceless people behind the counter change to a newer set of desperate people until they too disappear. Better to have a society where we blame people and call them names like losers when the market crushes them than try to do something positive to help the people who are VOLUNTEERING ( a that point ) TO WORK.

WalMart and other massively profitable global corporations nationally have seen fit to dump their employees on welfare programs that the rest of us pay for rather than pay their employees a wage they can survive on - using the same logic. And the same argument you make wants to shut those programs down too. Man you are really cold-blooded, or maybe you just do not want to have to really look at the problem.

You may disagree with the rise of the minimum wage, or the reach towards a living wage, and the desire for a maximum wage, but just because you do doesn't make it idiotic, any more than our system is idiotic because it has led us to their point where things do not add up, that you wish to ignore because you are doing fine yourself.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by charles reilly, a resident of another community,
on Jul 12, 2018 at 7:23 pm


CresentParkAnon, and others, please understand - this has NOTHING to do with the minimum wage. Many companies, especially restaurants, opened their doors thinking labor costs = $10. per hour. Today, in this area, even High School students will not come to an interview for less than $12. Many businesses thought Recession wages would go on forever, and how they are in trouble. A two bedroom apartment can easily be $4000 per month, so no one is overpaid ...


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:15 am

If you really think a restaurant worker is overpaid, there is no need to tip.

But at how many restaurants are workers overpaid?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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