The Big Moose Coffee Co., which opened in Frederick Street near the city’s St. David’s shopping centre, employs and trains homeless people as servers to give them a chance to get into full-time employment.
The café serves simple dishes including Full English breakfast; bagels with a selection of fillings; toast with toppings such as garlic mushrooms, mozzarella and pesto, and eggs; and omelettes with fillings including cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and bacon.
Co-founders Jeff and Chloe Smith ran a Kickstarter crowdfund campaign in the run-up to opening, raising over £30,000 for the refurbishment of the 65-cover site, which has been carried out by an in-house team.
Interiors feature exposed brickwork; a brushed metal central till and coffee station; and neon signs displaying quotes such as "Leaving the world better than we found it".
All profits from the coffee shop, which is supported by Welsh charity Llamau, will be used to help the homeless and disadvantaged in Cardiff to get back into “work and society”, says co-founder Jeff Smith.
“The plan is to open, run [the café] for a few months to find our feet and then we want to train one, hand-picked homeless person in food and beverage,” says Smith.
“After the training course they will then come to the coffee shop and join the team, earning a proper wage and being supported and mentored by us before then moving on to whatever job they wish to aim for.
“Then the process will begin again with the next person. Our ethos is to provide these people with, like the Big Issue say, ‘a hand up not a hand out.’”
The Big Moose Coffee Co. is similar to The Clink Charity, which runs cafes and restaurants in prisons. It trains prisoners with hospitality skills to get back into employment upon release.
The Clink is opening its first site outside of prison grounds this month, training previous ‘graduates of The Clink and homeless clients from Centrepoint Charity to achieve the City and Guilds NVQ level 2 in Food and Beverage service as well as barista qualifications.