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Buenas tardes; buenas noches. Curt’s Café, 2922 Central St., is as of Aug. 4 officially welcoming fans of its breakfast scones and smoothies to its new, late-day iteration as a Mexican eatery.
At 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays Curt’s Café morphs into la Taqueria, a casual place geared to please families and friends already at home at Curt’s and delight other diners. Available to eat in or take out are an array of quesadillas and guacamole, lime- and cilantro-laced salads and locally made tortillas with a variety of fillings.
Like Curt’s cafés North and South, la Taqueria is a non-profit organization where food service training gives at-risk young people the skills they need to get a job.
But this time the training is reserved for “graduates” of the café program who, though job-ready, have not yet found their niche. Graduate work at the Taqueria is a resumé builder that comes with stepped-up responsibilities and expectations, along with a regular paycheck. Services like access to the social worker are available, but strict rules, not the day program’s “multiple chance” policy, apply: “You don’t show up and you are fired,” says Curt’s executive director, Susan Trieschmann.
Like its coffee-centric siblings, la Taqueria is the heart-and brainchild of Ms. Trieschmann, a philanthropist whose compassion and vision continue to attract talented individuals with the will to help her help others.
The talent in this case is John des Rosiers, whom Ms. Trieschmann knew in her days as co-owner of the highly profitable catering business Food for Thought. Mr. des Rosiers, now a successful Lake County restaurateur who wants to “give back,” proposed that they partner in a dining venture that would model how a non-profit organization can be self-supporting rather than rely on grants and gifts.
Mr. des Rosiers handed over the recipes from his own taco restaurant and conducted trainings in preparing and serving the food.
What emerged is a “win-win-win” endeavor, says Lori Dube, Curt’s director of community relations. The community wins with a reasonably priced, family-friendly restaurant. Curt’s organization wins with a steady income stream. And the kids, the focus of it all, win with a new program designed to help them transition to the workday world.