Cool Cafe after-school program comes to Livingston

By: 
Samantha Hill

There is a new fixture in downtown Livingston, allowing kids the opportunity to have their own space.  

The Cool Cafe, located in the former home of Florence Furniture on Main Street, is an eatery and hangout spot for people younger than 18 years of age. The cafe is part of the larger organization — RISE — that provides after-school programs and job assistance.

Chantelle Plauche started the organization as a way for youngsters to have somewhere to go after school without too many adults.

“That is why the sign says, ‘18 and younger,’ because we want the kids to feel like it is their own space,” Plauche said.

The Cool Cafe is equipped with a snack bar, tables, a television and games like air hockey and foosball. The snacks include sandwiches, granola bars and a few sweet treats, all cheaper than found at a convenience store, she said.

The cafe has been open for the past two weeks, but will have its official grand opening next Wednesday.

In the next several weeks, Plauche wants to introduce a family night, which will allow a sit-down meal for the whole family after the parents get off work. There will also be holiday parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Although kids will be able to go to the cafe for lunches and after school, Plauche wants to emphasize it is not a day care and kids are responsible for themselves.

“We have some rules that we make the kids follow, like cleaning up after themselves,” she said.

After the opening of the cafe, the next step in RISE’s mission will be to introduce an area for older kids to study in called “The Cooler” just behind the cafe. The Cooler will look more like a library, with more desks and bookcases, Plauche said.

Because Plauche, along with her boyfriend, Gary Smith, have been building the area on their own, it will take more time before it is complete.

“It should be done by November,” Plauche said.

Just behind the Cooler will be a conference area for other nonprofits to use as an area for meetings.

The RISE program will also include a teaching component. High school students will get a chance to work at the cafe and learn about the restaurant business in conjunction with the Food Resource Center.

Plauche said there was a shortage of restaurant workers last summer, and she hopes to get students trained so they can enter the workforce without any problems.

The Cool Cafe is located at 118 S. Main St. It is open from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and will soon open for lunch for high school students.

Contact hallie.rise@gmail.com for information. A website and business phone number will be available in the near future.

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