Food & Drink

People with disabilities will brew coffee and serve sandwiches at New Baden cafe

A new coffee shop and cafe in New Baden will employ people with developmental disabilities, giving them skills and work experience and showing how they can contribute to the local economy.

The Red Porch will serve espresso drinks, coffee, The Republic of Tea products, soda and light meals in a former home at 301 E. Hanover. It’s expected to open in October.

“The menu has not been set,” said Cindy Timmermann, development director for Community Link, which will operate the restaurant. “But we’re looking at some unique sandwiches and salads, some grab-and-go items. It will be a breakfast and lunch place.”

Community Link is a nonprofit organization that works to enhance the lives of people with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities by offering them more choices, opportunities and interactions with the community.

The organization is partnering with Southern Illinois Living Centers, which owns the home on East Hanover that now is under renovation. SILC also operates Clinton Manor, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility with a a homelike environment.

The restaurant’s slogan will be “Brew Good. Do Good.” A Community Link employee came up with the name “The Red Porch,” prompting workers to paint stone around the porch red with yellow trim.

“We thought it would stick with people and maybe even help them find the place,” Timmermann said.

A ceremonial check-passing ceremony at The Red Porch includes, front row left to right, Barb Nelson, Community Link director of adult day programs; Eldon Ahner, REAL president; Lynn Huelsmann, Community Link executive director; and, back row, REAL group members Gordon Hoerchler, Jim Lopresto and Cheryl Smith. Provided

Inside, decor will be eclectic, including artwork produced by people with developmental disabilities. Some pieces will be available for sale.

Community Link will buy a new espresso machine, coffee brewer and coffee grinder with an $8,293 grant from REAL (Resources for Enhanced Active Living), a local group whose purpose is to “make available or augment services and supports to afford a lifestyle of dignity and opportunity for mature adults and people with developmental disabilities.”

Community Link is now looking for a full-time barista manager and part-time barista.

Staff will focus on the three Cs: Operating a cafe, helping the community and connecting people.

“The Red Porch will create a space that promotes inclusion and togetherness, as well as a place to catch up with an old friend or make a new one,” according to a press release.