NYC High Schoolers to Take Over Caffé Lilia in Brooklyn
The August 27 pop-up will support the Food Education Fund, a nonprofit that empowers the city's youth to pursue meaningful careers in food and hospitality.
Food Education Fund has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef Missy Robbins and her business partner, Misi and Lilia owner Sean Feeney, to host an educational summer program at Lilia for students of Food & Finance High School, the only culinary arts-focused public high school in New York City. The students, who will be running the high school nonprofit's on-campus School Grounds Café in the fall, have been training at Williamsburg's Caffé Lilia this summer to learn the ins and outs of running a successful café, including espresso-making, cashier-handling, pastry-baking, PR-managing, and more skills they'll cultivate throughout the school year. On August 27, the students will run a full takeover of Caffé Lilia, where customers can enjoy the fruits (read: pastries) of their hard work.
All proceeds from the takeover will go towards The Food Education Fund (FEF), a nonprofit that works with Food & Finance High School to offer students opportunities in culinary arts (and will also compensate the students for their work during the pop-up). The Food & Finance High School nonprofit's onsite café, School Grounds Café, is student-run and open to the public in the morning through the school year, and this is the first year students could apply to participate in the summer bootcamp at Caffé Lilia.
"The students are going to be running the School Grounds Café next fall and spring," says Eliza Loehr, FEF's executive director. "They do the menu; they do the finances; they do the PR. The culinary summer camp that we’re doing right
now is a three-part program – first they saw the café and met with Missy and Sean. Today they worked directly with the Caffé Lilia pastry chef. And at the end of this summer, they’ll be taking over Caffé Lilia, and that menu will go on the School Grounds Café."
During the first meeting, Feeney proposed that the students create a mission statement for the café – they decided on "Serving more than just good coffee and good food so that you can have a more than just a good morning," says Loehr – and since then, the students have independently organized conference calls, collaborated on Google Docs, and commuted from all over the city to make the program's 6 a.m. start time.
"It’s just been extremely exciting and inspiring to watch these young adults be so passionate about hospitality, doing something that they’ve never done before with the hope of positively impacting the community that the school is in," says Feeney.
In their senior year, Food & Finance high school students run the brand-new School Grounds Café, which will open for the school year on September 10 at 525 W 50th Street, every morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The Caffé Lilia pop-up will take place on August 27, running from the morning until around noon at 569 Union Ave.