A cafe is helping to change the lives of young people by providing children who have outgrown the foster care system with support and jobs.
The La La Land Kind Cafe is a small, all organic coffee shop that first opened up in Texas back in 2019.
Started by Francois Reihani, the coffee shop employs young adults in the hope of keeping them safe, employed, and off the streets.
Speaking with Good Morning America, Reihani explained that he decided he wanted to help children after hearing “the worst horror stories” about aging out of foster care.
“I became very involved with volunteer[ing] in the foster care community, and at one of the meetings I was at… kids [told] their story about aging out of foster care, which was probably the worst horror stories that I’ve ever heard. They [then] told us the statistics of what happens to kids in the system when they age out, and I was in complete shock,” Reihani explained. “I became very passionate about trying to be a part of the solution.”
To begin with, Reihani launched the We Are One Project, which provided foster children who are eighteen and older with lots of resources such as therapy, mentorship, higher education, jobs, and housing.
However, he realized the project wasn’t enough as the majority of the youth were struggling with employment due to their lack of job experience.
So, Reihani decided to offer the youth the experience they need himself by opening up the first, La La Land Kind Cafe.
“We focus on our youth program and creating a system where every company can actually be able to hire foster youth who age out of the system,” Reihani said. “On the other hand, our mission, of course, is to normalize kindness and we do that through being able to touch people on a daily basis.”
The cafe and its mission have worked so well, they have since opened up cafes in 4 locations, most recently a restaurant in Santa Monica, California.
Director of Operations at La La Land Kind Cafe, Abigail Myers described the response as “overwhelming” to GMA.
“I don’t think we were ready to see the number of people and the amount of love that we’ve had from the Santa Monica community,” she said. “We’re just very grateful and really excited to see how supportive and amazing this community is.”
“We’ve been fortunate enough to always have people who really have supported us so greatly … but this is definitely another level,” Reihani added. “The first day, the line was out the door for the most part of the day [and] the next day. It’s been an insane reaction, seeing how…people appreciate what we do, and we’re very thankful for that.”
But, despite the success of his cafes, Reihani’s work is far from done as he wants to do more than build successful cafes.
He wants the success and progress to inspire other companies to follow La La Land’s example and be “a part of the solution.”
“Even if we open 1,000 cafes, we’re not going to solve the entire problem,” Reihani said. “Not every youth wants to work in a cafe for the rest of their life, so it was very important for us to be able to create a model to where we could share that with other companies so they can also be a part of the solution.”