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A Restaurant Program For Youth Offenders Will Get A Permanent Location

Dane Walters
Students in the culinary program at the Dallas Youth Village prepare vegetable quesadillas during a pop-up dinner last year.

Café Momentum has been hosting once-a-month pop-up dinners in various locations for three years, but it will finally have a permanent home.

The building will be located at 1510 Pacific Ave., on the ground floor of a seven-story parking garage. The location is close to public transportation and offers enough space for customer parking, a full-service restaurant, catering and banquet facilities, and a classroom.

“This space is our opportunity to not only mentor more young men with job, life and social skills, but it will also serve as a hub for community building with catering services and a classroom all in one place,” Café Momentum executive director Chad Houser told CultureMap Dallas.

Café Momentum serves as a culinary training center for kids who are serving time in juvenile detention centers. Since it opened in 2011, the café has had 35 pop-up dinners and worked with 160 young men from the Dallas County Youth Village. In order to participate, the young men take a culinary class at Youth Village, and the top students get to work in the kitchen with high-profile chefs at the café’s once-a-month dinners. Café Momentum also helps the kids find jobs.

The program has been successful so far: the recidivism for those who participate is 11 percent, well below the state average of 47 percent.

KERA profiled the program last year. In this video, Leonardo Alvarez, a graduate of Café Momentum, talks about his legal troubles and his fight to lead a different life:

The building for Café Momentum is tentatively expected to open in December. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.