BAINBRIDGE — Two Café and Boutique has expanded its offerings to loyal patrons, including the addition of space vacated recently by a tanning salon next door.
The expansion gives the boutique end of the business more room for clothing, home goods and accessories as well as skin care products.
“We have also added a classroom to be used for exercise open to the public, where four weeks of summer camp have been held for individuals ages 5 to 18,” said Shari Hunter, founder of Two Café and Boutique.
Two Café and Boutique is a nonprofit organization under Two Foundation that provides real work experience for individuals with exceptionalities. Other employees at the café support the job seekers, hence the name “Two” Café. Two Foundation was started in 2013 to bridge the gap between high school or a sheltered workshop and community employment, Mrs. Hunter said.
The café and boutique exist to provide real work experience and employment for individuals with exceptionalities in a fully integrated setting, she said. The café is a place everyone can find healthy and local food and make a difference in the world.
At the camps, participants made ice cream partnering with Dairy Island in Bainbridge. Campers learned about merchandising and marketing, and the last day they sold their ice cream at the cafe, Mrs. Hunter said.
Two Café is also offering integrated exercise classes starting in September, with martial arts fitness programs one day a week with Jason Zakrajsek. The exercise with Mr. Zakrjsek is open at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays.
After Labor Day, Mindful Wellness will be open to the community at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Participants can register online. Christy Rosneck, a certified Yoga instructor who is on the Two Café staff, will teach the classes.
In the past, herbs and produce were grown in a garden off site. Now, there are gardens on site.
Hours of the café are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. “Everything spent by our patrons goes to help Two Café which is a nonprofit endeavor,” Mrs. Hunter said, thanking the community for its support.
Two Café and Boutique were opened in January 2015. Her son was her inspiration. “We want to help as many people with exceptionalities as we can,” Mrs. Hunter said. Exceptionalities can include autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and a variety of other conditions.
She does not believe segregated job sites and sheltered workshops are the answers.
“I opened Two Café to create a model and to give opportunities to those with exceptionalities as anyone else,” she said.
Two Café employees learn a variety of skills including customer service, food prep, appropriate behavior and operating the register, baking, stocking shelves as well as gardening.
One graduate of Two Café went on to Home Depot and was named employee of the month, Mrs. Hunter said. Two graduates are working at The Crumb and Spigot restaurant in Bainbridge.
“If we place them appropriately, they are going to be a wonderful employee,” Ms. Hunter said. “They are taking a job that matches their skill set and interests. We offer great employees. We assess their skill sets and interests and then we make matches with business employees who will meet their needs,” she said. “We have a team of educators and business people who make this happen.”
Two Café serves breakfast and lunch and buys pure, clean and local foods when available, including organic eggs, chicken and grass fed beef, and everything is made from scratch, according to Mrs. Hunter. The kitchen staff bakes everything on site and they serve gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options every day.
Once individuals graduate from the Two Café they are matched with business partners and transferred to their next job, Mrs. Hunter said. Forty business partners hire from Two Café.
“The mission is to get people out into the local workforce,” Mrs. Hunter said. Some of the local business partners include Dairy Island, Bell and Flower, Home Depot, Heinen’s grocery store, Crumb and Spigot, Club Pilates, Laura Lee, Neighborhood Office and Ganley of Aurora.
“We are a model, and hopefully we can someday replicate Two Cafés throughout the state,” said Mrs. Hunter, who was a teacher and in business more than 20 years.
Businesses interested in partnering with Two Café may contact Mrs. Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.