The L’Arche Tova Café accomplished plenty in its first nine months in business.
The restaurant at 118 Regent Ave. East opened in April 2012 after about six years of planning.
It is continuing to develop, as Petra Nolan was set to take over as manager as of Jan. 7, and a revamped menu with more baking and new catering items will also soon be released.
L’Arche Winnipeg operates six homes for intellectually disabled people, including four in Transcona, invites residents to work at the café performing tasks from greeting and serving to kitchen work alongside other staff members.
The café also provides catering and takeout services.
Acting director of fund development and communications Diane Truderung said response has been excellent from the community and within the organization.
"The biggest thing that the public has learned is the gifts the people with intellectual disabilities have," she said. "People come to the café and they’re so excited to have interaction with these individuals, and these individuals are so excited to come to their workplace every day."
"It’s a place of hope. It’s a place of friendship, and people are really comfortable and happy to be here."
Truderung said a half-dozen L’Arche residents currently work at the café, with at least one person working each day. She’s hoping more residents become involved as time goes on. She believes the experience of working in the café will help prepare residents for work in other restaurant environments.
"We’d like to train more people with developmental disabilities so they can either work in the café or they can work at another café," she said. "They gain people skills through this enterprise."
Nolan, the new manager, has been a part of L’Arche for 17 years, most recently as a house leader at one of the organization’s homes in St. Boniface. She has also been a part of the committee working to get the café open.
Nolan said one of the residents living in the St. Boniface house also works at the restaurant one day a week, noting the resident feels welcome at the workplace.
"He has really enjoyed his participation here," she said. "He sees it as a very important job to be a part of the café."
The café does more than just breakfast and lunch, hosting private events and even an art show in the fall with works from developmentally disabled contributors.
The café opens at 8 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, closing at 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.