Woodbridge Township café employing high school graduates with special needs reopens

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Café employing high school grads with special needs reopens in NJ
Mayor's Mac Café in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey is fully staffed by high school graduates with special needs between the ages of 18 and 21. Darla Miles has the story.

WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- A very important café in New Jersey, that employs high school graduates with special needs, reopened its doors Tuesday after its summer hiatus.

Taking pride in what you do is always a great starting point for any teen working their first job.

"I like working here. I love making the food. It's really great," worker Naomi Louispierre said.

While the comfort food is certainly appetizing, it's the Mayor's Mac Café in Woodbridge Township that keeps the tables filled.

"It feels great to come back here honestly," customer Nick Kasnowski said. "Just to see a new bunch of kids serving and everything like that."

"My name is Julian, I was a brilliant worker today and I just wanted to say that this place, this glorious place is one, glorious hell of a restaurant," worker Julian Rojas said.

The glorious restaurant reopened Tuesday after a summer hiatus. It's fully staffed by high school graduates with special needs between the ages of 18 and 21 who are part of a transitional program called R.I.S.E., which stands for Reaching-Individual-Student-Excellence.

"They work in all kinds of places. They're in Ace Hardware, they're in pizzerias, they're in offices, they're in nurseries, they're in day care centers," Woodbridge Township Mayor John E. McCormac said.

"I teach these children how to cook, how to do dishes, how to waitress," said Lillian Chavez, manager of Mayor's Mac Café.

The café is only one of more than two dozen employers in the township who hire R.I.S.E. students.

"They take their work very seriously and employers really appreciate that," said Julia Bair of Woodbridge Township Public Schools.

Many of them gain enough skills during the three-year program to get regular full-time jobs.

"It makes me want to work hard and focus very clearly," Rojas said.


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