Cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Cape Coral’s Spe­cial Pop­u­la­tions

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Stop by Pops Café dur­ing break­fast and you might en­joy fresh bread or cin­na­mon rolls. Dur­ing lunch, you could chow down on a gyro or a slice of pizza. Dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, freshly baked pies of­ten ap­pear on the menu.

Since open­ing in 2001 within Cape Coral City Hall, the cafe has served break­fast and lunch Mon­day through Fri­day from 7:30 a.m. un­til 1:00 p.m.

Pops man­ager Michelle Lussier works with both staff mem­bers and par­tic­i­pants from the City of Cape Coral’s Spe­cial Pop­u­la­tions pro­gram for in­di­vid­u­als with in­tel­lec­tual/ de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. The Spe­cial Pop­u­la­tions work­ers must com­plete Florida’s ServSafe pro­gram to learn ba­sic kitchen safety. They help with food prepa­ra­tion, wash­ing dishes, clean­ing, tak­ing or­ders, cashier­ing and serv­ing cus­tomers. Four of them work the café each day, along with a coach, as they ro­tate through dif­fer­ent po­si­tions at city hall to learn a va­ri­ety of jobs.

The Spe­cial Pop­u­la­tions/Pops Café pro­gram is run by the City of Cape Coral Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment. It of­fers an “ex­cep­tional op­por­tu­nity for par­tic­i­pants to de­velop, en­hance and/or main­tain life and job skills to use in ev­ery­day life,” says Kerry Run­yon, Cape Coral Parks and Re­cre­ation direc­tor. “This pro­gram is a unique part of our depart­ment, and we are proud to make such op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able for spe­cial in­di­vid­u­als within our com­mu­nity.”

Among Pops Café’s notable items are the homemade white bread and chicken salad. “The na­cho supreme on our spe­cials menu is also very popular,” says Lussier, who has worked at the café since 2015.

Lussier in­vites lo­cal chefs to vol­un­teer at the café for a day. “We’d love them to come see what we do and show­case their restau­rants,” adds Lussier, who, along with her hus­band, Christo­pher, owned sev­eral restau­rants in Fort My­ers for about 12 years, in­clud­ing Edi­son Lunch Box, Sec­ond Street Deli and Ci­mini’s Ital­ian Restau­rant.

The City of Cape Coral’s Spe­cial Pop­u­la­tions pro­gram helps staff the kitchen at Pops Café.

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