IN THE COMMUNITY
Creating opportunities for Cape Coral’s Special Populations
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.