A metro-east restaurant and floral shop staffed by adult clients of the Illinois Center for Autism will soon be consolidated to cut costs, but all employees will be retained.
Pasta Fare, an Italian restaurant, and Petals Remembered, a flowers-to-order service, will be consolidated into one of three storefronts the Autism center has been operatingat 5900 N. Illinois St.
Effective June 27, the restaurant's dining room and floral shop will be closed. The floral shop's arrangements will be made at the autism center's Belleville campus, and sold from the same storefront where Pasta Fare's food is cooked in an adjoining kitchen.
The restaurant will only provide carryout and catering orders.
Illinois Center for Autism Director of Communications and Development Rachel Newsome said the changes will be a cost-effective way to grow its program while streamlining production and providing the best customer service. This move will not affect the center's 46 adult clients who staff both businesses.
"We're not shutting down," Newsome said. "We're closing the dine-in portion. It has been as profitable as we like it to be. We want to focus more on our actual program. We are not closing. We want people to continue to use the catering and come in and order lunch and carryout."
She said the autism center's lease at the Fairview Heights shopping center is up by the end of this month, so the autism center is reducing its presence while retaining its program there. She said those employees who have worked as servers will be moved to the autism center's Fairview Heights campus, which has a commercial kitchen and small cafeteria.
At that location, they will serve breakfast and lunch to the center's elementary school students.
"No one is losing their job," she said. "We hope to gain more clients. We hope to grow the adult program and make it better and more cost-effective for us."
The Italian restaurant opened in 1992, 22 years ago this month. The flower shop opened next door in 2003.
Newsome, who is in her seventh year with the autism center, said both businesses have provided an invaluable experience for clients.
"It gives them a sense of independence," she said. "They're out there earning a paycheck, paying taxes and doing all of those things that 20 or 30 years ago folks said they didn't believe was possible."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.