Connections Café and Catering, which opened in August of 2018, is a program of Lifeline Connections and helps serve men and women in recovery, as well as those living with mental health conditions. For those who may have a gap in their work history or have other barriers to employment, Connections Café provides on-the-job training in food service. In addition, they work on building strong customer service skills and teamwork.
Chris Attaway, who serves as the café’s supervisor, has a long history in the food service industry and works hard to impart knowledge and help train each person. He shares that there are no volunteers, but instead, the café hires regular employees.
“We have three regular full-time employees and up to eight current patients of Lifeline Connections. They are learning valuable job skills and then transitioning into hopefully full-time employment, either within the agency or outside the agency,” he said.
When the café opened, Attaway was the only employee. Today, not only has the team grown, but revenue has, too. Before the pandemic, revenue had reached about $14,000 monthly and as of June 2022, monthly revenue was approximately $27,000 a month.
The café is open to the public for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Popular menu items include breakfast burritos, burgers, a variety of salads, wraps, and sandwiches like the French Dip and Swiss and the chicken club wrap.
Attaway said that not only is the food good, but it is also a great way for people to help those in the community that are working on building a better life for themselves.
“We are a training kitchen giving support to those in early recovery to help them maintain sobriety and achieve long-term sobriety,” he said. “It’s great food for customers and helps those in early recovery.”
Looking ahead, Attaway said that they are hoping to expand on their catering services as businesses continue to return to pre-pandemic operations. He is also looking at ways he can expand current services to create even more opportunities for those making life-changing choices to live substance-free.
Connections Café and Catering is located at 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Building 17, in Vancouver. To learn more about the organization, visit their website at connectionscafecatering.com.