During the morning rush hour, Front Porch Café has been a favorite stop for people commuting to their jobs in downtown Richmond, VA. Throughout the day, neighbors, community members and health care workers would also meet there for lunch or an afternoon coffee.
However, like so many things during the peak of the pandemic, this all came to a halt in March 2020.
Front Porch Café is a workforce development initiative made possible by a partnership with Bon Secours Sarah Garland Jones Center. The café exists to equip young people from Richmond’s East End with valuable job skills and work experience.
The café is owned and operated by Church Hill Activities & Tutoring (CHAT), a nonprofit that serves East End youth through a private high school, an after-school program and a workforce development program that offers skill training, job experience and mentoring. The team there takes great pride in creating a hospitable gathering space for one of Richmond’s most historic neighborhoods and its surrounding community.
When many restaurants started closing across the country during the pandemic, Front Porch Café began serving family meal packages for walk-up or curbside pickup. Many customers purchased meals for other families in need. And now, today, the Front Porch Café is fully open again!
“June 1 was our grand reopening after our COVID-19 hiatus,” shares Duane Brown, director of workforce development at CHAT. “The technical skills we teach are for hospitality, restaurant and barista jobs. The life skills we teach are built on three pillars: attendance, presence and communication. Employers are looking for those three foundational characteristics. I tell our students all the time… if you have those three, you can transfer them to any job you will have throughout your career.”
After two successful pop-up days at the end of May 2021, the Front Porch Café knew they were ready to reopen and welcome the community back to their heart-healthy lunchtime salads, delicious pulled chicken barbecue sliders, grilled cheese, their famous Church Hill breakfast and so much more.
“The Sarah Garland Jones Center owes its inception to the generosity of donors to the Bon Secours Richmond Foundation,” shares Sean O’Brien, director of community health for Bon Secours. “Since its opening in 2016, the center has become a model of collaboration in addressing the socio-economic factors that contribute to a healthy community. Access to programs that develop valuable workforce skills are vital for opening doors to sustainable wages for youth in marginalized communities. Our partnership with Front Porch Café is a critical initiative in this area.”
Front Porch Café is located at 2600 Nine Mile Rd, Richmond, VA 23223. It is open weekdays from 7am to 5pm and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm.
Learn more about our mission at Bon Secours as well as our community commitment.