Cafe Momentum serving up heart, community, and a tasty vision for the future

cafe momentum, chad houser

I’ll never forget my first ever Cafe Momentum pop-up dinner.

It was 2011 and I got a call from my good friends Dan and Giles that I needed to cancel whatever plans I had and join them for a really cool dinner that also did good for the community. They didn’t provide a ton of details other than to meet them stat for what they guaranteed to be a special experience. As most Dallasites, I attended my fair share of charitable events, but I quickly learned that Cafe Momentum wasn’t your ordinary foodie or charity event. It was a legit movement.

Guests that evening received an exquisitely prepared four-course meal, impeccably served by a group of young men who could’ve given the staff at any top restaurant a run for their money. By the time dessert was served, it didn’t take any of us long to see how Cafe Momentum was authentically transforming the lives of these boys.

I quickly learned that Cafe Momentum wasn’t just a charity or your ordinary foodie event. It was a legit movement.

cafe momentum, dallas, chad houser
With a new friend at Cafe Momentum, July 2012

That wasn’t my last pop-up. I attended several more and told everyone I knew about the food, the mission and those incredible kids. So I was ecstatic when I learned that these popular dinners would be evolving into something that could make an even bigger impact daily. It’s been an incredible to watch Cafe Momentum’s evolution.

EAT. DRINK. CHANGE LIVES.

What started off as a passion project for Chad Houser and Janice Provost, has now evolved into a full-fledged culinary machine in the heart of downtown Dallas, serving up foodie goodness to hungry patrons looking to also support an incredible mission that feeds the minds, hearts and dreams of local at-risk youth. Chad now serves as CEO and Executive Chef.

Since 2015, Cafe Momentum has operated an innovative Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility that provides a positive environment for troubled youth who have spent time in juvenile facilities. They receive intensive culinary, job and life-skill training, as well as continued mentorship and support, enabling them to achieve their full potential.

Working in collaboration with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department, Cafe Momentum strives to teach young adolescent men and women that it is possible to break the cycle of violence and crime that many of these teens have faced.

The training includes lessons on how to prep, cook, plate, and serve dishes and anything else needed to prepare them for future employment in the restaurant industry.

HOW IT WORKS

cafe momentum

COMMUNITY FIRST

We’re partnering with Cafe Momentum this year to cook up something pretty cool for our community. Our weekly coffee meet up, #BigDOCC, now calls Cafe Momentum home every Tuesday morning. And we’re committed to keeping our readers informed each month of Cafe Momentum’s mission, news and events. We spoke with Chad about this collab and what’s next for CM.

Dallas is often referred to as one of the most philanthropic cities in the country. How has the DFW philanthropic ecosystem impacted Cafe Momentum’s success?

I think that that philanthropic culture in DFW is exactly why Cafe Momentum exists. I’m not sure that we could have successfully raised enough money to start such a (at the time thought to be) risky endeavor.

cafe momentum, chad houser
credit: Daniel Rodriguez

How has CM’s mission evolved since it began so many years ago? 

We remain steadfast to the original mission – help the kids achieve their full potential. The organization has certainly evolved to continue to proactively meet the ever changing needs of the population we serve.

For someone new to CM, how would you describe the nonprofit in only three words? 

Outta The Box!

Your favorite dish on the current menu? 

I love our “Single Origin Chevre” dish because I think it represents my philosophy on food. We buy raw goats’ milk from Bonton Farms. Two of the goats that they milk are named Lucy and Ethel. We convinced Daron at Bonton Farms to keep Lucy and Ethel’s milk in their own separate containers so that we could make cheese with each of their milks. When you order the Single Origin Chevre, you get a tasting of cheese made from Lucy’s milk and a tasting of cheese made from Ethel’s milk. Although the cheeses are made the exact same way, they taste very different simply because they come from two different goats.

I love our “Single Origin Chevre” dish because I think it represents my philosophy on food.

Launch DFW is excited to be serving as a community partner with Cafe Momentum. Why is social entrepreneurship and community partnerships so important for Cafe Momentum?  

The more voices that are shouting the same message, the louder the message is heard and received.

The biggest business lessons you’ve learned? 

There are no shortcuts in life and don’t ever shut a door until you’ve at least walked in the room to see what’s inside.

cafe momentum, dallas, chad houser
credit: Chad Windham

What’s next for Cafe Momentum?

Restaurant number two! Hopefully next year.

SAVE THE DATE

Upcoming “can’t miss” events at Cafe Momentum this month:

February 14 – Valentine’s Day Dinner with Two Pre Fixe Menus

February 25 – Eric Nadel’s Sunday Supper Concert Series with Emily Elbert and Kirk Thurmond

 

  • Obsessed with cities, startups & spicy food. Team 75201 CEO, LaunchDFW

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