Dine With a Purpose

Enjoy great food and help build community!

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, 15 through 24 years, 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.  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 or formerly incarcerated young adults have few resources available to them.  Even a short confinement dramatically affects one’s ability to thrive outside incarceration.  With little hope of securing employment, even for entry level positions, many end up living on the streets and return to destructive habits. Cycling through the courts, 86% of those released are 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 marketable skills and then assisting in securing employment. We teach culinary techniques but also provide instruction they will need to fill in educational gaps, gain confidence, and become job-ready.

Some teaching is done on café lines, some is done in a classroom setting, and some by individual mentors or outside the cafes. 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 cafés

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!


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.

Thank you for your interest and support. 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