Food truck creates jobs for Refugees in Clarkston!

Refuge food truck creates jobs
PREP Atlanta is proud that Refuge Coffee Truck operates out of our facility!

This Food Truck Serves Up Gourmet Food And Drinks — And Jobs For Refugees

Anjali Enjeti for NPR (click here for article)

 

Refuge Coffee is a nonprofit gourmet food truck that employees refugees resettled in Clarkston, Ga., and provides job training and networking opportunities within the community.

On a bright, blustery October morning in Clarkston, Ga., the sweet aroma of baked treats and brewing coffee flows out the windows of the fire engine-red food truck known as Refuge Coffee Co. parked at a street corner. A dozen or so eager customers mill about, converse and gradually fall into line.

Chalkboard signs announce the menu: latte, cappuccino, chai latte, espresso and hot chocolate, as well as a soda of the day, iced matcha latte, and a “shakerato” (espresso with simple syrup, shaken, over ice). For breakfast seekers, croissants, muffins, morning buns and scones await. Wedges of tomato and goat cheese quiche, crunchy Nepali chatpate and savory sambusa (triangle pastries stuffed with lentils) are readied for the lunch crowd.

Three refugee-baristas are buzzing about inside the truck. Amina Ahyaoui, 32, arrived from Casablanca, Morocco, in 2014. Tha Hlei Iang, 31, is from the Chin state in Myanmar. She spent four years in Malaysia with her husband and daughter before they made their way to Clarkston in 2011. Ahmad Alzoukani, 31, is a pharmacist from Damascus, Syria. He came to Clarkston in September of last year.

 

(Left to right) Ahmad Alzoukani, Tha Hlei Iang, Ndahimwa Leon Shombana and Amina Ahyaoui all came to Clarkston, Ga., as resettled refugees and embody the town’s international vibe.

Though Iang and Ahyaoui are trainees who only began working at Refuge Coffee a few weeks ago, they pour and stir and make change like seasoned professionals. Iang laughs when she says she doesn’t even drink coffee or tea, just juice and water. Ahyaoui loves coffee, but enjoys socializing with the customers more. Alzoukani, who has been with Refuge Coffee for a little over a year, is quick to point out his specialty. “I make the best cappuccinos,” he says.

The truck sits in a parking lot in front of a garage that once belonged to a used car dealership. Some customers take their orders to go or sit outside at tables. Others meander to the cozy cafe space inside the garage. Red and turquoise tables and plush sofas offer customers plenty of space for dining, communing or taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi.

Shortly after noon, 43-year-old Ndahimwa Leon Shombana, Refuge Coffee’s manager since May, makes his way to the garage with the purposeful gait of the high school teacher he once was. He checks in with other staff and will soon begin his shift on the truck. Shombana, who arrived in Clarkston in November 2012, hails from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahyaoui, Iang, Alzoukani,and Shombana embody Clarkston’s international vibe. In the 1990s, the U.S. State Department deemed this northeast suburb 11 miles from downtown Atlanta, with its low cost of living and easy access to public transportation, an ideal location for refugee resettlement. Some 13,000 residents call Clarkston’s 1.4 square miles home. Half are foreign-born — most of them, like the employees at Refuge Coffee, are refugees. They come from everywhere from Afghanistan, Bhutan and Burma, to Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and, more recently, Syria.

None of the baristas spoke English when they arrived in the U.S. They take tuition-free, English-as-a-second-language classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Learning the language has become their highest priority. “Imagine people who come to this country without a word of English,” says Shombana. “That person cannot express himself. That person is not free.”

 

A sign outside the Refuge Coffee food truck says “Welcome” in (top to bottom) Amharic, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Sudanese, Vietnamese and Nepali.

 

Alzoukani agrees. “What I discovered when I came here was that without language, you can not work. With language, you can do anything.”

Today, Refuge Coffee employs two full-time and three part-time staffers, as well as four full-time barista trainees. The red truck is permanently stationed in front of the garage — it’s open six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Alzoukani, who insists Atlanta traffic is much milder than traffic in the Middle East, drives the second truck — used for catering — to weddings, corporate events and even movie sets in the greater Atlanta area. On the set of the HBO movie Confirmation in July 2015, actress Kerry Washington, who starred as Anita Hill, thanked Refuge Coffee on Instagram for serving the cast and crew.

Income from sales covers only half of Refuge Coffee’s current operating costs, with private donations and grants making up the rest. Though the Refuge Coffee team hopes to generate more sales in the future, it is currently facing a more dire issue — location.

When the used car lot went out of business, the property on which Refugee Coffee is located went into foreclosure. Refuge Coffee must vacate the premises by Dec. 1 or purchase the property with funds it hopes to raise in a crowd-sourcing campaign (click here to support Refuge coffee)

Shombana remains optimistic, though. With the support of the community of Clarkston, “the future of Refuge Coffee,” he says, “is bright.”


Anjali Enjeti is an award-winning essayist, journalist and literary critic based in Atlanta.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL UPDATE LIST

WATCH FOR OUR ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUR HUGE EXPANSION!

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept. Established with one goal in mind
to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Truck & Tap – Atlanta Food Truck Catering

Bentley Grace and Dad – Brownie Baker = Love!

bentley grace Brownie Baker Cerebral Palsy

Bentley Grace – Brownie Baker Extraordinaire!

 

B G and D Brownie Baker in Atlanta Bentley Grace

 

Click Here to see video of this wonderful Baker in Action!

A chance meeting is allowing an Atlanta girl with cerebral palsy to follow her dreams of being an entrepreneur. Longtime entrepreneur Paul Monahan is passionate about his baking business. He says that his patience, however, is an ingredient of which he is in short supply. One day, while shopping for flour in Whole Foods, a girl named Bentley-Grace changed that for Monahan. Grace, who has cerebral palsy, is also an entrepreneur. She is known as the little girl in Buckhead who bakes and sells brownies.

“I have these awesome delicious, outstanding, greatest brownies,” Grace said.

 

Bentley Grace and PREP Crew

So, impressed with Grace, her positive spirit and, of course, her brownies, Monahan invited her to a unique commercial kitchen operation ( PREP ) where owners of small food businesses can do their cooking. The professional foodies and cooks did a taste test with Grace’s brownies. Grace was offered a membership to work in the kitchen, get licensed and get her brownies in grocery stores. It was seeing her brother earn money washing dogs that made Grace want to earn money too.

Grace’s mom says she is thrilled that a chance meeting in a grocery store aisle led to her daughter getting free use of a commercial kitchen and a chance to grow her dreams.

Grace said her secret to making delicious brownies is that they are made with love.

Bentley Grace Brownies PREP Membership

Order from this brownie baker extraordinaire today on Bentley Grace’s Website: www.BGandD.com

Original article on WSBTV by Carol Sbarge Click Here

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept which was established with one goal in mind – to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta, by providing state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs, including: specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.  For more information about PREP, please call (404) 920-4150 or visit  www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter – Take a Tour of PREP

 

Refuge Coffee Truck making a difference

Refuge Coffee Truck

The Refuge Coffee truck makes it’s home at PREP!Refuge Coffee Truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reposted from The Refuge Coffee Truck www.RefugeCoffeeCo.com

Maybe you’ve seen Clarkston in the news lately. And we’re guessing you smile when you see our red truck, not always featured, but often as the colorful backdrop to the story. We like to think the truck itself is a bright beacon of hope… A beacon your gifts and encouragement have helped us to light. We are Refuge Coffee.

Well, we thought you’d like to know a little of the news behind the news. Because we know you care about what’s really happening:

  • Someone in our community pointed out an inaccuracy in the piece by Channel 46 that aired last week. The reporter mentioned a coffee truck in Clarkston “run by refugees.” While we appreciate our neighbor’s desire for us to get credit, the reporter was right. The Refuge Coffee Truck really is powered by three very empowered Clarkston residents from Congo, Ethiopia, and Syria. We couldn’t be more delighted with this “error.”
  • If you watch the same report, you’ll hear from a man who is quite vocal in his opposition to refugee resettlement. Sadly, he represents many Americans. The next day, he showed up to meet with our “young, hipster mayor” (again, the reporter’s words)… where? At the truck! He bought coffee brewed and served by a resettled refugee. A refugee who often revels in the freedom he has here to say anything, even if he disagrees with our government. In his country, there is no free speech, and he has paid dearly for that.
  • Finally, we are super proud of Ahmad’s courage. We’ve pretty much asked reporters to leave him alone while he gets up to speed in English (he began learning only three months ago when he arrived in the U.S.), but somehow, Channel 2 got a microphone near him, and he did great. Check it out here.

Why do we share these tidbits? Because you are making them happen. YOU are making the news and the real news every time you invite us to cater an event or send us a $5 donation or buy one cup of coffee from us.

You’ve generously given so that we can employ and train Eleni, Leon, Ahmad… and hopefully others soon. You’ve enabled us to buy an old truck on craigslist, outfit it as a rolling coffee shop, take it all over Atlanta, and park it right here in the refugee community where detractors and encouragers alike visit and sip coffee, some never knowing they are creating refuge.

We are thankful for you.

And speaking of creating refuge, our Campaign ends in just two days. We’re getting close to our goal of 50k, an amount we’ll need to widen our embrace and deepen our impact in 2016. If you haven’t given this time around, would you consider making a donation? Just click here to fuel the beacon of hope called Refuge Coffee Co. 

(The photo above is from our Thanksgiving Brunch at Refuge Coffee Truck at our garage space in Clarkston. Come join us there one Wednesday or Friday, 7am till 4 pm)

Refuge Coffee Truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREP Cook-Create-Connect is a fully licensed unique shared kitchen concept.
Established with one goal in mind, to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta.
PREP provides state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, test kitchens resources,
food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs.
These are specialty food producers, baker, caterers and mobile food service operators,
along with the next generation of food artisans. PREP is a privately held company based in Atlanta, GA.
For more information about PREP please call (404) 920-4150
or visit www.PREPatl.com    PREP on Facebook – PREP on Twitter