At first glance, Café 54 looks like any other eclectic and artsy lunch spot, with drawings, paintings and collages covering its red brick walls. But take a closer look, and the unique mission of the eatery becomes apparent. Table numbers that customers receive after ordering include the story of a famous person with mental illness – the singer Adele, for example, who has been open about living with depression. And those who work in the restaurant wear T-shirts displaying its motto: “Fresh Food, Fresh Start.” Located in Tucson, Arizona, US, Café 54 serves as an employment training program for people with mental health conditions or developmental disabilities. Trainees are paid to work as cashiers, cooks, dishwashers and servers; the goal is to help them gain new skills and land a permanent job in the workforce – just as soon as they’re ready. “We believe that recovery is possibly for anybody, and oftentimes that’s best achieved…through community involvement and through employment,” said Jeff Grobe, executive director of Coyote TaskForce, a nonprofit advocating for adults with mental illness.

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