When I sampled the generous variety of menu items available at the Friendship Café located in the Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center, Rabbi Chaim Slavateki revealed the inspiring and special story behind the creation of a kosher restaurant.
“The Friendship Circle program in the synagogue opened the café in January of 2020,” said Rabbi Haim. “The restaurant offers job training, education, and employment for adults age 21 and older with special needs who want to work in the food service, hospitality or customer service industry. Business skills to be acquired include food safety, food preparation, and much more.”
Rabbi Haim continued, “The Friendship Café was established because a large percentage of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed throughout the country.” “We focus on capabilities rather than limitations.”
The café is an aspect of the Friendship Circle’s life/functional skills training program. The program aims to equip adults with special needs with important life and work skills. Individuals develop communication skills, as well as basic mathematics and reading. There is also a mentorship program where local business owners and community leaders come and share their knowledge.
“We have built a bridge between society and people with special needs,” said Rabbi Haim. “The training gives them a chance to find work in the companies in the community.”
Rabbi Haim added, “The program has received incredible support from the community and clients’ families.”
“Training through the Café and Life Skills Program creates hope for the sons and daughters of parents. Families told me it changed lives!”
“A parent noted: My son’s birthday is the day he joined the programme.”
The program teaches people with special needs how to shop with awareness of basic finance.
“Adults aged 30 who have never taken a $5 bill for a bag of sugar can now go to Publix and do it,” Rabbi Haim said. The program teaches them the value of money. Seeing the impact on these young people is amazing! “
Training gave adults with special needs a sense of value and pride.
“Every morning they come to work with a smile,” said Rabbi Haim. “They gain confidence in themselves and have the confidence to think, ‘I am important. I can make an impact. “
Rabbi Haim made it clear that the café’s mission was not to make money.
“Our interest is not the end of the business, but to help people with special needs move forward and advance in life. We felt the need and had the space to set up the café. People came together for a noble cause.”
Rabbi Chaim concluded: “I would like to see more people doing what we did.”
It should not be overlooked that the food is nutritious and delicious. The extensive menu of the fast casual Mediterranean restaurant includes:
Salad bowls (comes with mixed greens, israeli salad and quinoa)
Schnitzel Bowl $16.95
Shawarma plate $16.95
Chicken Breast Bowl $16.95
Falafel Bowl $12.95
Falafel Balls (7) $6.95
Grape Leaves (6) $6.95
Israeli salad $8.95
Rice and beans $6.95
Couscous with vegetables $6.95
Mashed Potato $6.95
French fries $5.95
Sweet Potato $6.95
Onion Rings $6.95
Salads (1/2 pound $4.95 and 1 pound $8.99)
Red cabbage mayonnaise
Moroccan carrot salad
Corn and black bean salad
Green Spicy (Chug)
Grilled Jalapeno Pepper
Soup of the day $6.95
Bean soup $6.95
Vegetable soup $6.95
Chocolate ball $2.95
water 2 dollars
Soft drinks $2
Israeli drinks $3
Organic juice $4.50
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kids list (All orders come with fries and soda or water)
Chicken Nuggets $8.95
Hot dog $8.95
Friendship Café is located at 1306 E Las Olas Blvd. , Fort Lauderdale.
Working hours: Sunday – Thursday 11 am – 9 pm and Friday 11 am – 3 pm
Call 954-999-9676 or visit FriendshipCafeFL.org for more information.