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New cafe cooking up job and life skills for disadvantaged people

Post by News Tribune Staff on Nov. 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm | No Comments »
November 26, 2007 5:17 pm

Inspired by a Seattle restaurant that teaches culinary skills to disadvantaged people, The Public House Cafe is preparing to open in Tacoma.

Charlotte Lute and Tina Kalinowski are the women behind The Public House Cafe, 1601 6th Ave. As FareStart does, they hope to train at-risk youths and disadvantaged and homeless adults food-preparation and barista-service skills.

The students, in turn, will staff the cafe, which Lute and Kalinowski hope will become, as the name implies, a neighborhood gathering spot.

Both Lute and Kalinowski bring certain skills to the cafe and its mission. Lute is the chaplain at Pierce County’s Remann Hall juvenile detention center. She previously taught in the culinary department at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood. Kalinowski is on the board of Tacoma Urban Network, a watchdog for the city’s social and human services for children and families.

“It’s not just culinary. We’re teaching life skills, too,” said Lute. “We want to go farther than entry level.”

Like FareStart, The Public House Cafe plans “guest chef nights.” Kalinowski said C.I. Shenanigans chef Joel Mertens and Stadium Bistro chef-owner Peter Weikel have expressed interest in guest cheffing.

Lute and Kalinowski are aiming for a two-phase opening, starting, they hope, sometime in January. Initially, the cafe will serve coffee, pastries, sandwiches, pizza, soups and salads. As more kitchen equipment is acquired (or donated), they’ll expand the menu.

Lute and Kalinowski promise The Public House Cafe will be open by Valentine’s Day.

“No matter what,” Kalinowski said, “that’s our drop-dead date.”

That’s the night Tacoma singer-songwriter Aaron Spiro and his wife, Stephanie, will perform their new album live. They’ll repeat the performance Feb. 15. Dinner and copies of the Spiros’ CD –- every song is about love –- will be served, too.

Kalinowski said she plans to book local musicians.

“Low-key stuff,” she said. “Not Hell’s Kitchen.”

The Public House Cafe, 1601 6th Ave. Opening date: Not yet determined.

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