News

Facing economic pressures, Ada's Cafe makes plea for donations

Cafe struggles to make ends meet with rent hike, minimum wage increase

Ada's Cafe founder Kathleen Foley-Hughes, left center; son Charlie Hughes, center; and Todd Cerf, right, at the cafe in 2017. Photo by Veronica Weber.

In the face of rising rent and labor costs, Palo Alto's Ada's Cafe, which employs adults with developmental disabilities, is seeking donations from the community to keep its doors open.

The founder of the cafe sent a plea to donors this week asking for financial support.

In June, the cafe's Mountain View commercial kitchen was sold to a new owner, who raised the rent by 60 percent, founder Kathleen Foley-Hughes and deputy director Peter Hughes wrote in the message to supporters. On July 1, the city's minimum wage increased to $15 per hour — equivalent to a 15 percent pay increase for all Ada's Cafe employees. These two changes, plus $15,000 in major equipment repairs in the past month, have produced an untenable situation for the cafe.

"Ada's is continuing to do a tremendous job in delivering on its mission and we want to continue our work, but it is simply not possible to pass all of these costs on to our customers," they wrote.

Since opening at the Mitchell Park Community Center in 2014, the cafe has employed 66 adults with developmental disabilities and 33 high schoolers, plus dozens of others as interns and volunteers. The cafe serves pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee, tea and other casual fare.

Ada's entirely funds its wage-related program, training and costs of goods from revenue from the cafe and catering. The nonprofit also operates a second cafe in San Francisco.

Foley-Hughes said the nonprofit is feeling the squeeze "in every aspect of running the business."

"The rent is one piece of the challenge. Labor costs are rising, which on the one hand we are happy about for our employees but now we are feeling the price increases from all of our suppliers because they are raising their prices, as well," she wrote in an email. "We can't raise our prices enough to cover the cost increases so we have reached out to donors to see if they would like to help."

Ada's "provides career employment to some of the most marginalized members of our community and society," wrote Foley-Hughes, whose son has a developmental disability. The workers' disabilities range include traumatic brain injuries, Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.

Adults with developmental disabilities represent one of the fastest growing segments of the population and face high unemployment rates — as high as 80 percent, she said.

The nonprofit also conducts research on how to improve workplaces for people with disabilities and on hiring, training and empowering people with disabilities in the commercial food service industry.

Ada's Cafe won this year's Tall Tree Award for Outstanding Nonprofit and was recognized by the California State Assembly as the 2017 Small Business of the Year.

Those who would like to donate can send a check payable to Ada's Cafe to 839 Northampton Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94303 or contribute electrically at adascafe.org.

"I remain hopeful," Foley-Hughes said.

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Comments

8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 12, 2018 at 10:47 am

Their location is on city property. Is our city fallen so low as to squeeze handicap cafe?


19 people like this
Posted by Chetzi
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 12, 2018 at 10:57 am

Chetzi is a registered user.

I believe the biggest increase in their costs is from the rent from the kitchen in Mountain View. I haven’t heard of any increase for their space at Mitchell Park.


3 people like this
Posted by PA North Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

PA North Resident is a registered user.

What's the URL to give them a donation?


13 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 12, 2018 at 11:12 am

Pat Burt is a registered user.

They have a donate button on their website, Web Link. It's a great organization with great food and service. Please let your friends know of their need for support.


11 people like this
Posted by ellen
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Would a concerted effort to patronize their business help? I've never been there and would certainly be willing to give them my business and suggest to others to do the same. How is their occupancy rates? Are there slow times that would be helpful to get people to plan their coffee and lunch meetings there?


20 people like this
Posted by Stew Plock
a resident of Triple El
on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

We had Ada's cater a brunch for a special occasion and it was absolutely fantastic. The looks of pride and accomplishment on the faces of the Ada servers was the best part of that experience. Ada's is a wonderful asset and deserves the broad financial support of Palo Altans. And it's not just a great cafe and catering service...it's in the business of filling a special and an important employment niche for our community.


15 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

We love, love, love Ada's Cafe! Both their food and their mission are amazing. Please donate AND patronize this wonderful cafe. I love their 'apple slipper'.


6 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm

80-90% of these business are essentially NO-profit, since it has high costs at every angle, and is stiff with competition. The few businesses that mange to make the elusive profit margin, do so at a very thin level, which tends not be sustainable e.g. if rent increases, etc. If you position yourself to be a non-profit business in this sector, you will end up losing money for sure because you're not focused on the 10% chance of surviving. Any effort to raise money to keep it afloat now will be a temporary solution.


5 people like this
Posted by Apricot Mafia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Thank you for posting this story. I'm in.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Posted by Marie, a resident of Downtown North, 22 minutes ago

>> If you position yourself to be a non-profit business in this sector, you will end up losing money for sure because you're not focused on the 10% chance of surviving. Any effort to raise money to keep it afloat now will be a temporary solution.

It has generally been pretty busy when I've been there-- very convenient location for all the Library and Community Center patrons, who don't have to get back in their cars and drive down Middlefield to one of those competing businesses. IOW-- I don't agree with your reasoning. The donation will help pay for the off-site kitchen for what is a thriving business. There may be a longer term solution of some kind for the kitchen.


9 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:05 pm

@Marie, I’m just curious what you think would be good alternatives for adults with developmental disabilities? I’m curious what someone with a business mindset would propose in order to keep this population as productive members of our society.

Thanks!


6 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I just made a donation. I don't go in there much because I'm normally running into the library to return/pick up as one of the long list of Saturday errands. I look longingly at the outdoor tables, and keep going. However, I believe in their mission and feel it was a genius idea to include the café as part of our new Mitchell Park Library.


11 people like this
Posted by I love Ada's
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 12, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I love Ada's is a registered user.

This is a great cause. Delicious food, great service AND they are creating important work and learning opportunities for folks with disabilities. I'll send a donation today. Join me!

I love Ada's!


6 people like this
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 12, 2018 at 6:27 pm

I've never understood how Ada's manages to stay in business. I would say that at least a quarter of them times I go to the library, they have a sign in the window apologizing for the inconvenience, but they're closed for some reason during posted business hours. Given unwillingness to plan to meet someone there when I can't be sure they will be open, the frequent lack of even moderately convenient parking due to the small parking lot meant to accommodate a LARGE community center AND library, astronomical prices, and awful food (far and away the most unappetizing catered meal I've ever experienced), I won't be eating there, and I won't be supporting the effort to collect donations allowing them to make rent.


Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 12, 2018 at 6:31 pm

How about a GoFundMe? How does that work?


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 12, 2018 at 7:38 pm

This article prompted me to go in today and buy a $3.82 16-oz coffee to go.
Seems about par for Palo Alto these days. First-time customer as a walk-in.
I've enjoyed some of their catered items at Mitchell events and elsewhere.


26 people like this
Posted by Journalists find the new landlord for the commercial kitchen
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 12, 2018 at 8:52 pm

I would love to know who the new Commercial kitchen landlord is that raised the rent for an organization that provides jobs and training to disabled people. They are the ones who should be receiving the publicity. Adas is a great organization and in addition to the jobs and training they provide, their food is yummy!


9 people like this
Posted by Big Fan
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 12, 2018 at 8:59 pm

@ellen,
The food is so good there, it's worth seeking out as a destination. The pastries are top notch - try the apple slippers and the snickerdoodles first. The salads are some of the best in town. I often try to time going so they aren't sold out. Even the stuff they bring from elsewhere is interesting. I don't drink soda but found an only modestly sweet but tasty rhubarb soda there. The jams they sell are excellent, too. The fritatta, also excellent. I've never been a fan of the breakfast burrito (little bland IMO). But everything else, absolutely yummy.

The mission is icing on the cake of what is objectively a really lovely high-quality little eatery. It is worth going out of your way to stop there, but better to make it a stop on the way to and from the library.

I wish there was something that could be done about the commercial kitchen, though. Doesn't Mitchell have a barely used commercial kitchen in the community center? I guess it might be hard to coordinate.






13 people like this
Posted by Big Fan
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm

@ journalists,
I agree with you. But the same thing is happening all over. New landlords want to push out existing tenants and then say they can't rent the space and have to put a big office in.


4 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2018 at 10:47 pm

Pat Burt, the City funds nonprofits like Avenidas, right? Is Ada’s eligible for similar city support? It is such a wonderful part of our city.


11 people like this
Posted by PublicRecords
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm

Your tax dollars at work!!! Public Records FTW

Web Link
ADA'S CAFE

Web Link
1954 OLD MIDDLEFIELD WY Unit STE D MOUNTAIN VIEW 94043-0000
Property Information - Assessor's Parcel Number (APN): 153-04-003

Web Link
Document Type
DEED
Recording Information
Document Number:
23916510
Recording Date:
04/24/2018 09:28:52 AM
Number Pages:
5
Names
Grantor:
1954 OLD MIDDLEFIELD WAY LLC
Grantee:
SIERRA GREENS L P

Web Link
198434200045 SIERRA GREENS, L.P.

Registration Date: 12/05/1984
Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
Entity Type: DOMESTIC
Status: ACTIVE
Agent for Service of Process: JOHN J BERTOLOTTI
505 LAURELWOOD DR
SANTA CLARA CA 95054
Entity Address: 505 LAURELWOOD DR
SANTA CLARA CA 95054

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Funny
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2018 at 9:41 am

It is funny to see those who want to publicize the new owner. If the new owner can raise the rent by 50% without the fear of losing the tenant, it only means that the original rental rate is well below market rate. Of course it was very nice for the previous owner to provide below market rate housing, the new owner does not have the obligation and certainly does not deserve public criticism for choosing not to do so. For those good heart people, why don’t you donate ENOUGH money to cover the raise. Please put your money where your mouth is, and do not be generous using other people’s money. If our neighbors believe that ADA’s cafe is an important part of the community, we could donate like in this case or pay more visits to the cafe, or willing to pay higher price for the food. Why count on the new owner to bear the financial burden solely. By the way, I do not know who the new owner is.


20 people like this
Posted by Landlord Mafia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2018 at 9:46 am

It's not about covering any "Burden", it's about profits...check that, it's about making LARGE profits. Nothing illegal about that, nothing illegal about knowing who the gouger is. Karma always wins. Maybe he eats in my restaurant :)


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

Put in a Philz and let the techies take over. No room for the poor in this town of social darwinism. :(


5 people like this
Posted by Funny
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2018 at 10:27 am

What is the problem of making profit or even huge profit? How huge is huge here? Mark Zuckerberg’ net worth is $80B which mean that his income is $5B per year. Do you praise him for donating 1% which is $50M. Now we are asking the new landlord to give up 30-50% of the revenue which might be 80-90% of the profit for a business with annual income in the order of maybe hundred thousand dollar. Come on, it is just so unfair expectation. Maybe the new landlord is happy to donate 1% of his profit as well. He or she just does not deserve the public finger pointing as “cold blood”.


Like this comment
Posted by Apologist Mafia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2018 at 10:45 am

Nothing is wrong with doing anything that isn't illegal, but like I said, sometimes society and karma have a way of balancing the scales using their own legal ways and there is nothing wrong with that either.


4 people like this
Posted by Funny
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2018 at 11:47 am

It is not a legal discussion. You keep mentioning Karma. It seems that you want like to mobilize the community to crush the new landlord by means of media or simply cursing. Such a dangerous thought. When I talked to my kids, I told them that you need to understand what is your need and what is your want. My opinion is that living in Palo Alto should not be anybody’s need (ready for attack here). Have said that, helping disability is a social need and the respinsibilty lies in the government which we contribute through paying tax. Personal donation certainly is a big plus. But shall we criticize whose who does not want to donate. NO.


1 person likes this
Posted by Opinion Mafia
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Without instruction or specific request for action on anyone's part,
I fully believe that any and all communities will police the behaviors of their own members, and will generally weed out behaviors that are deemed unacceptable. I support this, just as I support the landlord doing what he wants within the law.

Actions always have consequences, and the community will speak loudly most of the time when they see actions they disagree with. As long as it's within the law, I fully support this.
Do whatever you want within the law and let those chips fall where they fall.


5 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm

@Bob: I think Ada's goals and efforts are commendable.

Outside of requiring business of a certain size require hiring a % of it's employees mentally or physically disabled (for say tax cuts); what can work for small businesses is for there to be a non-profit that compensates a business for hiring ADA-qualified employees. Say, at the end of the year, a business could recuperate 10-20% of the cost of employing that person by filing with an ADA non-profit. The reality is that a real disability in an employee will translate into a true deficit for the employer, and thus there should be some restorative mechanism. If there is a ADA non-profit that exists, they could give some sort of ADA-permit to work for the employee to present while interviewing. This could be a workable mechanism.

Most us humans have a need to work and keep busy, and having a job of any sort is an existential benefit.

ps, I commend Apple for hiring a person with Down's syndrome in downtown, who is apparently mostly fully capable. All large businesses should follow suit.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2018 at 6:42 pm

@Marie, great ideas! I guess I just get frustrated when it seems like every single square inch of PA property must be utilized as a billion dollar generating capitalist machine. I guess that is the goal of many Palo Altans, but I seek a more rich and diverse community where all are welcome.


4 people like this
Posted by Maureen
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Thank you Ada’s for creating a wonderful community gathering place where I love to read, eat and run into friends. Your cafe has always served me excellent food and coffee and your catered meals have also been top notch! Your customer ratings are outstanding and you also provide a vital community service. People working at Ada’s are so warm and friendly - like Palo Alto used to be when it was still just a small town. I love Ada’s and support it whole heartedly with my business and, now, with donations. Thank you Palo Alto Online for letting us know Ada’s needs our support. I’d hate to lose this gem!


Like this comment
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

casey is a registered user.

"On July 1, the city's minimum wage increased to $15 per hour — equivalent to a 15 percent pay increase for all Ada's Cafe employees. "

Is the minimum wage reporting correct? From the city's website, it states that the current minimum wage is $13.50 per hour starting on January 1, 2018. The $15 per hour wage does not begin until January 1, 2019.


2 people like this
Posted by Riding a Swing at Peers Park
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 15, 2018 at 1:17 pm

A possible solution....

How about a gala fundraiser for Ada's? That way various weekend 'do-gooders' & active social climbers can get their names and faces in the local society page.

It's an opportunity for women (and men) to be seen wearing their designer clothes while casually posing for the roving photographers.

Ada's could prepare and serve the various meal courses and at $1000.00+ per person, additional working revenue could be generated.


Like this comment
Posted by RZ
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Correction -- The Palo Alto Minimum Wage doesn't go to $15 an hour until January. It's currently $13.50. Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Angie
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Ada's appears to have a Mightycause (Razoo) page, if that's easier for people to donate.
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by tony
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 17, 2018 at 8:42 am

Ada's operates in three locations - Palo Alto (cafe), Mountain View (kitchen/catering) and San Francisco (cafe). The minimum wage in Mountain View and San Francisco rose to $15.00 on July 1, 2018. The minimum wage in Palo Alto will rise to $15.00 in six months on January 1, 2019. With the minimum wage rising to $15.00 on July 1st in two of its three locations, Ada's raised wages for all employees to reflect the law and to maintain pay equity across its entire workforce.


Posted by RZ
a resident of Adobe-Meadow

on Jul 17, 2018 at 11:59 am


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