JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A "pay what you can" restaurant in Johnson City has made a reputation for itself in changing the rules for dining, and now they are hoping to change more lives.
Walk into the One Acre Café in Johnson City around noon, and it's a packed house.
What you may not know is this is the first job in the restaurant business for some; others, like Amy Stout, are training. "I come in about five days a week. I help prep the food and I help serve the food," she said.
For the past five years Stout has been a stay-at-home mom since the birth of her daughter. "My husband was deployed to Iraq and I started out by making all of our daughters baby food. It's the first time I ever really realized how much I like to cook," she told us.
Stout says getting into the business has been difficult. "In today's marketplace, you really can't get in the door if you don't have experience," she said. That's why she came to One Acre Café.
We found out the cafe is trying to start a new co-op program to give people like Amy the experience they need. The co-op program will help with things like basic kitchen skills, career planning and coaching, and service jobs like waitressing. "They will receive an hourly stipend which increases each month. It's a three-month program," says Michael Borders.
Borders is an intern from ETSU, and he's working to get the program off the ground. He says they still need $3,500 to help pay the salaries of those in the program, as well as local restaurants to volunteer and help. "We [would like to] place our co-op in a restaurant like that upon completion so they can be a part of a community restaurant after," he said.
Stout says she plans on applying for the program and hopes it will make a difference in her life. "I can contribute to my family, and take it outside the restaurant to give me the references I need in able to move forward from here," she said.
If you want to apply for the program or volunteer to help, you can call the One Acre Café at (423) 483-0517 or click here to visit their website.