Dine With a Purpose

Enjoy great food and help build community at the same time

At Curt’s you’ll find freshly brewed coffee, homemade pastries, inspired sandwiches, soups, and salads in a warm and welcoming home away from home.

We strive to use local products and vendors and we make everything possible from scratch. We offer free WiFi, and space for community meetings, book clubs, knitting groups — you name it!  Just call the cafes for more information.

Our student-trainees range in age from 15 through 24.  They are considered at risk because they are living in at-risk situations such as having contact with the judicial system, or are homeless, food insecure or have dropped out of school.  They are determined to build a positive future for themselves, their families and their community.  For these young adults, being able to get and hold a job will contribute immeasurably toward their success.

We provide something besides delicious treats and a comfortable space: we also serve up good portions of hope and opportunity. 

Our program at Curt’s is unique and much needed. Proven at-risk and formerly incarcerated young adults have limited options and few resources available to them.  Even a short period of confinement dramatically affects a young adults ability to thrive outside incarceration.  They have little hope of securing employment, even for entry level positions.  Many end up living on the streets and return to destructive habits. They cycle through the courts and 86% of those released are being sent back through the system within 3 years. We all pay the price for such recidivism. For our sake and theirs, it makes sense to direct these young adults toward a secure and productive future

These young adults all identify one essential thing that would help them turn their lives around: a job. 

It costs more to send a teenager to a correctional institution than it does to put them through Northwestern University.

At Curt’s we provide that opportunity by teaching them marketable skills and then assisting them in securing employment. We tutor them in culinary techniques but also provide them with the instruction they will need to fill in educational gaps, gain confidence, and become job-ready.

Some of the teaching is done on the Café line, some is done in a classroom setting, and some is done by individual mentors or outside the cafe. Students are referred by probation officers, Youth Job Centers, social services agencies, police officers, city outreach personnel, and family and friends of graduates or current students. After their training, we assist them with job placement and help them transition into full-time employment.  We have a minimum of 30 new students per cafe through the program each year.

We support our students in the process of learning productive life skills by introducing them to four disciplines:

Life Skills such as opening a bank account, decision-making, job readiness
Intellectual Skills such as English, math and computer literacy
Food Service Skills in the kitchen, as baristas, in counter service, and in food preparation
Experiential Skills by offering trips around the city with mentors to learn outside of the Café

We enroll four or five students at a time who will train with us for three months; all students are provided with a stipend as they learn with us.We promote education, respect, compassion and integrity, and embrace the philosophy of restorative justice in all we do.  

Our students and their families will always find a home at Curt’s Café.

If you have further questions feel free to CONTACT US

And if you’d like to help our program thrive, we can surely use you!

Thank you for your interest and support – we look forward to seeing you at the Café!


Our online newsletter will keep you updated about our program and also let you know about coffee and menu specials and events at the Cafe.


2016 Annual ReportDownload PDF

Curt’s Café is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Tax ID number 45-3934105. Your contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable.

Curt’s Café is a vibrant gathering spot, and a positive force for good in our community.
Please stop in for a visit — we look forward to seeing you!

Meet Our Team