Café employs people with disabilities, holds auction to stay open

The auction to keep Ada's Cafeopen is live through the end of this month. Here's how you can help:

Video Transcript

- Welcome back. Ada's Cafe in Palo Alto is not your typical cafe. It's also a nonprofit that employs people with disabilities. But like many businesses, the pandemic has taken a devastating toll on a very special place. So now they're holding an auction to keep the doors open, and you can help. So joining us to talk about this, the founder of Ada's Cafe, Kathleen Foley Hughes, and employee Jeremy Teeter. Kathleen and Jeremy welcome.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: Thank you. Thanks. And as I said, Jeremy it's great to see your face. Can't wait for you to come back to work.


- I can see there's so much excitement there, because Kathleen, you just reopened. So happy to hear. How long were you closed?

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: So we opened and closed three different times. So it's been a bit of a roller coaster. We care about our community, we care about our employees. We don't want anyone to get sick. But so it's necessitated us being open and closed some of the time. So it's been a struggle.

- Kathleen, I appreciate you having ABC 7 on in the monitor behind you. I see that up there. Look, when you were forced to close, many people in the community were so sad, because you're not just a cafe. Explain what you do as a non-profit and what your mission is.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: Thank you. Thanks, so we're a social enterprise. We're a business with a mission, and our mission is to hire and train and ultimately elevate and empower adults with disabilities, and others experiencing barriers to employment. So we are a wonderful group of people that love food and care for one another and care about our community. So we are a special place.

- And in fact your own son Charlie works at the cafe. Tell me.


- Hi. How's it going. I thought it was you, but with the mask I couldn't be sure.


- It's so great to see. I mean, I don't if you want to take this or Charlie, but what has been a part of Ada's team really meant to him.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: So you can say. What does Ada's mean to you, Charlie? As a team member. You can take your mask off. It's OK.


KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: Is it about the people?

CHARLIE FOLEY-HUGHES: It's about the people.

- OK, all right. The people is what you like. OK. I'm going to see if Jeremy thinks the same. Jeremy, what do you do at Ada's Cafe?

JEREMY TEETER: I have to serve the other people, and caring for other people.

- Ah, OK. So what kind of skills have you learned working there?

JEREMY TEETER: Doing well in the cash register, and doing different things, and making sandwiches.

- Oh, awesome. So Kathleen, you've had to lay off some employees. And I know you're barely hanging on between the lease, your training, and catering business being down because of no parties. But thankfully you have good friends in the community who are holding an auction for you, hoping to raise a quarter million dollars. Tell us about the auction.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: So two friends of ours, [? Firze ?] Dumas and Alex Crispin have started this amazing online auction at And there's lots of amazing contributions, events. Hollywood people have donated. Meetings and events and there's dinners and there's amazing artwork and pieces of furniture and jewelry. It's pretty amazing. And [INTERPOSING VOICES] I'm sorry.

- Oh no, it's OK. I just want to ask my producer to actually scroll that, because I saw some of the items like catered like cookies, and meal prepared by the staff. Show me the cookies. Show me the cookies. All right, Jeremy? Are you going to help prepare these cookies? Because if so, I'm all about it.


- Is it hard making these cookies? Like what is the trick to making them really good and not break?

JEREMY TEETER: We work together.

- Oh. Of course. Yes, working together is super important. Let me just ask you also, Kathleen, why is it so expensive, I guess, if you will, the kind of training that you do and the community folks that you bring in to make this all work?

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: So I think any business, especially food businesses are labor intensive, and we make a really-- we put out a really good product. But we have a collaborative role, work environment. And so there's always kind of a buddy system, and that's expensive. It works.

- I mean, it totally works. That is why you've been so special since 2014. Check out Ada's Cafe website. The auction closes in nine days. All right, stick around. We'll continue to chat on Facebook Live.


- Well, don't go away. We still have Facebook Live. We're not on TV.


- Thank you. We have two more minutes. So I do want to ask you, hey, is Charlie still there?

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: Charlie's here. Yeah.

- OK, excellent.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: We need to your put Charlie's face on here.

- Charlie, can I just ask you, like of all the things that you do at the cafe, do you have any favorites? Like are there things that you like, part of your job that you like more than the others?

CHARLIE FOLEY-HUGHES: My favorite is being the barista.

- Aha. What's your specialty? Latte?

CHARLIE FOLEY-HUGHES: My specialty is lattes.

- Well, what is the trick to making them good? Because I usually am not able to get my foam when I make it, like really, really puffy and fluffy the way I get in a really good cafe like yours.

CHARLIE FOLEY-HUGHES: So my trick is steaming the milk very well.

- Gotcha. It probably has to be at the right temperature, too, right?


- How about you, Jeremy? Can you teach me something, because I'm really not very good at making cookies or baking or making sandwiches. Is there a like skill or trick that you can share with me?

JEREMY TEETER: When you're cooker is showing you how to do things, you follow them.

- You do what? Sorry?

JEREMY TEETER: Cookers who help you with the cookies, we have help you follow those directions.

- OK. Well, thank you so much. I can't even tell you how happy I am to talk with you both, because I'm super excited to see Ada's Cafe is opening back up. And I hope this auction goes awesome so that you guys can keep going. Thank you. Bye Charlie, bye Jeremy.

KATHLEEN FOLEY-HUGHES: Bye-bye. Thank you.


- Good luck.