Cafe Momentum offers different kind of restaurant


Photo by Michelanglo Pellis

The exterior of Cafe Momentum

Written By Michelanglo Pellis, For The Globe

At first glance when you walk by it on Forbes Avenue, Café Momentum may seem like any other Downtown eatery. It’s not. 

“Café Momentum is an award-winning culinary facility,” states the newsletter found on the company’s website. “We aim to transform young lives by equipping Pittsburgh’s justice-involved youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential.” 

Their mission statement says it all: It’s more than just any old restaurant. They plan to change lives while serving Downtown foodies. 

In Pittsburgh as of 2015, over one million arrests of minors were made, according to records compiled by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. While most of these offenses were minor, police interaction at a young age can be very harmful and undermining to developing youth, according to the agency.

Café Momentum aims to break the cycle and “help young people move from the criminal justice system to self-sufficiency,” the restaurant says online.

Culinary professionals offer training to youth ages 15-19 who may be at risk of facing the cycle of incarceration and violence. Café Momentum’s program is more than just learning how to cook; interns learn to gain confidence in their own abilities and learn valuable skills that will aid them throughout their lives.

Neighboring café Blue Bird Kitchen manager Allison Wolfe shared her thoughts on Café Momentum.

“I think people deserve second, third, and fourth chances,” she said. “It’s unfair people can’t find jobs based on their past mistakes.”

That’s exactly what Café Momentum intends to do, give second chances to people who might not have received them otherwise.

Interns take on a 12-month program in which they become skilled in all areas of a restaurant. They learn social, employment, and financial skills as well as take on parenting classes and career path exploration. Cooking is just one of the skills they will master.

Café Momentum already has locations in Dallas and Nashville, with their Pittsburgh location aiming to open in March. New paint, flooring and light fixtures are being added to create a space that reflects the beauty within their mission.

Something to consider when choosing your next restaurant location is what goes into the meal that’s placed in front of you. At Café Momentum, it’s hard work, determination and hope for a brighter future.

Cafe Momentum staff were unable to provide comment.