DALLAS - A new Dallas café that hopes to help foster kids transition into adulthood opened Monday morning.
The La La Land Kind Café offers jobs to young people aging out of the foster system. And the 23-year-old founder said the new business is more about just giving customers a pick-me-up.
“Some of them, their passion may not be making coffee. But if we can teach them basic skills here – you know customer service or basic team skills or whatever it is – they have a bigger opportunity. That would be a great joy for me to see them move up the scale,” said Francois Reihani, the owner of La La Land Kind Café.
The employees learn about timeliness, cleanliness, customer relations, productivity and teamwork. And most of all, they find encouragement.
“A lot of people look at life and they thing, ‘Why am I even here? What’s the point of being alive if this is what I have to go through?’ But you get that one person that loves you and shows you that you are worthy and you do have talents and you are beautiful,” said Megan Dodson, the shop’s director of coffee.
“When I come here it’s like coming to church. You have a good vide. I used to have a lot of baggage on my shoulders but when I walk in here it’s all chill and calm and I don’t have to worry about nothing,” said barista Lateia Thompson.
Thompson also said Reihani has been more than a boss.
“To me he’s like a dad or a brother, a role model. He was actually there and sticks to his word, not just say it but he’s there. And he’s somebody you can go to when you need something,” she said.
Celestine Aubrey Garcia, the café’s assistant manager and event planner, grew up in the foster system. At one point after she turned 18 she said she was homeless for two months sleeping on a friend’s couch. She remembers trying to figure out how she was going to save her pennies and put a roof over her head.
“Now I feel like I’m shouting it to the world and I’m part of a movement, a real movement that is going to make a change that no one has before because we’re teaching the fundamentals they need through their lives to grow,” Garcia said.
La La Land Kind Café serves high-quality coffee, teas and ceremonial-grade matcha with an organic-only food menu. It’s located off Lower Greenville Avenue on Bell Avenue in a 100-year-old renovated building.
“The coffee can be fantastic. The matcha, the teas, whatever… but that’s not what we’re here for. That’s what we tell the youth every day. This place was built for you so whatever we need to do to help you get to where you need to be, we’re going to do it,” Reihana said.