Update (May 22): On April 13, we highlighted both Spencer's Place in Surprise, Arizona, and Not Your Typical Deli in Gilbert, Arizona, two businesses that were created to provide those individuals with intellectual disabilities opportunities to work and learn skills in the hospitality industry. Since the stay-at-home order in Arizona was lifted, we wanted to check back in with both eateries to see how they were doing.
"I love having people in here. I didn't realize how much I missed the life and the energy until it happened again," said Karin York, who opened Spencer's Cafe five weeks before businesses were ordered to close their dining rooms.
Over at Not Your Typical Deli, Chef W. Reith said he has been able to re-hire a few more people since the stay-at-home order lifted and has even been able to create new elements for the business.
"During the pandemic, I'm doing bagel schmears now. So, I took our chocolate chip cookies and I ground them up and made a bagel schmear with my chocolate chip cookies," he said. "Cappucino smear, salted caramel smear and apple fritter smear as well."
He has also been able to re-hire a few more people, bringing some extra help to the business. Watch our updated story in the player above.
We’ve said it a lot — life is different right now and maybe even a bit stressful, but through it all, we’ve found some remarkable stories of hope and inspiration.
In our latest “We’re Open, Arizona” series, we are headed to Gilbert and Surprise where two cafes are doing some incredible work to prove that life — and all of us — are not so different after all.
“Oh it’s awesome! I love seeing my friends and I love seeing them and am so happy they came to work, “ said Spencer Nickell.
He is the face of Spencer’s Place, a new cafe near Reems and Waddell roads in Surprise. And he’s hard at work.
“I love saying hello to people and I love working as the cashier,” Nickell said.
Spencer and his mom, Karin York, opened their cafe in January and immediately began serving coffee drinks, specialty lemonades, and baked goods.
“I realized long after he graduated that my students...I’m a special education teacher... were not working. They didn’t have jobs. They were losing skills. A lot of my students were losing skills,” she said.
“So, this was a dream that was breathed out of just my frustration. I prepared these students for amazing jobs. I knew they would be able to conquer simple tasks and jobs. They had money skills. We did mock interviews all the time and really honed in on skills they would need, but nobody would give them a chance,” she said.
It’s a similar dream that Chef W. Rieth had when he opened Not Your Typical Deli back in 2016 in Gilbert.
“There is an 85% unemployment rate nationally for adults with developmental disabilities. There's also a 90% rate in Arizona. We thought those were pretty staggering numbers. So, we wanted to make a difference,” he said.
That's how Not Your Typical Deli was born.
“These guys have been rockstars the past four years. The accolades these guys have won for their hard work and amazing food they're putting out.. and how much pride they have in their jobs.. it has been amazing!” he said.
Like all restaurants right now, sales are down and both businesses have had to make some tough decisions.
“We’ve literally had to cut more than half of our staff for the time being,” said Karin York, owner of Spencer’s Place.
“We’ve thinned out our staff, sadly. And we’ve reduced our hours to compensate. Our goal right now is to break even,” said Rieth.
Yet, despite these temporary changes, the businesses are open and their employees are ready to work.
“We're lucky! We still have our amazing food. The same. We did not touch anything on the menu. We're actually doing specials too! We roast everything in house. The pastrami, roast beef, corned beef, turkey...everything is done here!” Reith said.
And in the end, there is a lesson for all of us.
“What we have heard from the public this has given them a tangible opportunity to do something for someone else, and to learn more about individuals with disabilities and their capabilities. And it has empowered them,” said York.
We're Open, Arizona: We know this is a tough time for a lot of people in our community, including local restaurants and businesses. As local spots continue to serve takeout, look for ways to safely do business, and give back to our community, we want to share their stories. Visit abc15.com/open or email us at OpenInAZ@abc15.com.