Mayor Mac’s Café in the Port Readington section of Woodbridge, a café that trains students with special needs, has reopened after closing down for the pandemic.

The Middlesex County café’s workforce is comprised of students from the RISE program (Reaching Individual Student Excellence) and is a joint effort of the town of Woodbridge, the Cypress Recreation Center (where the café is located) and the Woodbridge School District.

The café was designed to train young adults with special needs for careers in the food service industry while serving as a place for the public to purchase food during activities at the center. The students learn cooking and customer service skills, while earning a wage for their hard work.

The venture was made possible in part because of a $45,000 grant from the Kessler Foundation. According to the Kessler website: The Foundation believes that all people with disabilities have a right to pursue competitive-integrated employment, and live with dignity within their communities.

While there are many programs to help younger children with special needs, there are far fewer after they turn 18 or “age out” of the system. Mayor Mac’s Café can help young adults transition from students to productive members of the workforce. Organizations like the Kessler Foundation are helping bridge the gap.

Mayor Mac’s café is open for breakfast and lunch and gives people enjoying activities at the Cypress Recreation Center a place to take a break and get something to eat. The restaurant had to close due to COVID restrictions but is now open again.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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