Bigger Purpose: Café Momentum Planning To Expand

Café Momentum in Dallas provides a transformative experience through a 12-month paid post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities.

Video Transcript

- What you see here is so much more than what probably just looks like a restaurant to you. It's a potential model for handling juvenile justice. Last December, we introduced you to the founder of Cafe Momentum. That's in downtown Dallas. And in today's Ones for Texas, the founder tells our Ken Molestina about some pretty big expansion plans.

KEN MOLESTINA: The idea behind Cafe Momentum is simple. Make quality restaurant food.

CHAD HOUSER: To opening a restaurant that for six years straight now has been listed as one of the top restaurants in Dallas.

KEN MOLESTINA: But this nonprofit has a bigger purpose. It's giving young adults who are exiting the Dallas County juvenile facilities a chance to learn a skill.

CHAD HOUSER: We are the new model for juvenile justice in this country. And so it's not just opening programs. But it's showing people around the country, it's building conversation and advocacy around the country to change the way the system works.

KEN MOLESTINA: It starts with an internship that includes a job and access to a support system of case managers, psychologists, and others who advocate and encourage.

CHAD HOUSER: We're working with 150 young people a year here in Dallas. And we know that there are 728,000 young people around the country that are going into the various juvenile systems.

KEN MOLESTINA: And Cafe Momentum is getting national attention. For the first time since starting in 2015, the model is expanding, starting with Nashville and Pittsburgh later this year.

CHAD HOUSER: We didn't want to arbitrarily walk into any community and say, well, we know what's best for you.

KEN MOLESTINA: Chad Houser, the founder of Cafe Momentum, told us it's about getting to know the community and making connections with groups who can help support this effort. Oh, and, of course, there's food too.

CHAD HOUSER: Even down to the cuisine, right? You know, part of our diligence in Pittsburgh and Nashville has been, you know, to eat out, to visit restaurants.

KEN MOLESTINA: For Houser, who faced questions and skepticism about whether a concept like Cafe Momentum could work, he says this next chapter for the cafe is validating and inspiring.

CHAD HOUSER: To have juvenile departments around the country rallying around to support the work that we're doing, to me, more than anything else is-- hopefully, it's sending a message to these young people that they do matter, that their lives matter.

KEN MOLESTINA: And doing it by serving up meals with hope. I'm Ken Molestina, CBS 11 News.

- They tell us the long term goals for Cafe Momentum are ambitious. But why not? They should be. Raleigh and Pittsburgh, just the first two cities they're thinking. Houser hopes to reach 50 cities before the year 2050. And we wish you well.