Café Momentum Transforms Youth to Serving Meals Instead of Serving Time

February 16th, 2024

When Chad Houser opened his premier bistro in 2007, he was recognized as one of the best up-and-coming chefs in Dallas. The trajectory of his success, however, was forever changed by an ice-cream contest. In his CNN Hero interview, Chad shared: “I had an opportunity to go teach eight young men inside a Dallas County juvenile detention facility how to make ice cream for a competition.”

Chad witnessed the raw talent and drive in the young men he mentored. One of Chad’s students won the entire competition—beating out culinary students and young professionals citywide. That young man enthusiastically told Chad: He wanted to cook for a living.

In Texas, more than 40% of juveniles are reincarcerated within three years of release. Chad saw that despite the passion and gift the young man had, the odds are stacked against him.

Inspired, Chad pivoted away from his bistro to instead open up Café Momentum, a restaurant that  provided paid-internships to justice-involved youth. Interns rotate through all aspects of the restaurant, focusing on life and social skills, coaching and development.

Hear more from Chad at our upcoming BEYOND PROFIT session on March 1. Chad will be sharing valuable lessons he learned from his courageous journey and the challenges that come with success.

The evening presentation also includes a panel discussion featuring local social entrepreneurs and changemakers. Post-presentation portion includes a networking opportunity with wine reception and catering by Youthworks.