By Kevin Kelley
SAW Inc. – Solutions at Work – has been selected by the Westlake Porter Public Library’s board of trustees to operate the cafe in the library’s lobby.
SAW, a nonprofit organization, trains and employs individuals with developmental disabilities in conjunction with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ training programs.
The cafe space at the library has been vacant since Feb. 1 when Picc-A-Deli Cafe at Porter Library closed. Picc-A-Deli’s cafe, which opened in November 2004, had served sandwiches, hot dogs and other foods.
Later in February, the library’s board of trustees sought formal proposals from potential vendors to operate the cafe.
Initially, the library received numerous inquiries about the process, but ultimately only two vendors – SAW Inc. and Italian Creations – submitted formal proposals, library officials said. Before vendor interviews were scheduled, Italian Creations withdrew its proposal, saying that a steady increase in its current business prevented it from starting a new project.
Library officials said they were extremely impressed with SAW’s presentation and the quality of products they will offer in the new cafe.
“We are delighted to be working with an organization whose mission so closely complements our own,” Porter Director Andrew Mangels said. “And we know our customers will be delighted by their offerings.”
The library cafe will be called Pulleys at Porter, named after Pulleys Coffeehouse 36, a cafe that was operated by the SAW and the Cuyahoga County Board of Development Disabilities until it closed in December.
Tyrone McCann, SAW’s regional employment manager, said the goal is to open the library cafe in mid- to late July. SAW is in the process of interviewing employee candidates and conducting background checks, which includes fingerprinting.
Food service and urban farming are among the fields SAW offers training in. SAW employees currently operate the cafeteria at the Virgil E. Brown Center, the building that houses the county’s human services programs.
Pulley at Porter will be run by three trainers and 10 SAW training program participants, McCann said.
None of the developmentally disabled employees at Pulleys will be permanent, McCann said. SAW’s goal is to train employees through its programs, such as Pulleys and the three Just-A-Buck dollar stores it operates, and ultimately find them jobs in the private sector, McCann said. The period of time a SAW worker spends in a training program varies from four weeks to two years, he explained.
“It’s based on how they progress and their willingness to work hard,” McCann said. He expects about 20 to 25 employees to pass through Pulleys cafe each year.
The cafe will be open the same hours as the library, McCann said. In regard to food offerings, McCann said Pulleys’ focus will be on beverages, such as coffee, and sub sandwhiches.
Porter Library is a good fit with SAW, McCann said, because both organizations assist people further their education and advance in life.