Old Skool Cafe
We recently drove up to San Francisco for a quick weekend trip. Before heading up we looked up restaurants to see where we should try and visit and my husband discovered Old Skool Cafe which had incredible reviews on yelp. I remembered connecting with Old Skool a long time ago and hoped that one day we'd be able to visit so this definitely seemed like the perfect time.
Old Skool Cafe is youth-led supper club that provides jobs and training to youth, ages 16-22 with a special emphasis on previously incarcerated and foster youth. The restaurant was birthed out of the vision of Teresa Goines, a former corrections officer, who noticed the revolving door of the current criminal justice system. She wanted to give the kids she was working with in corrections real options, real jobs and real opportunities, so they did not feel they had to go back to the places where they'd previously receieved support. We didn't get the chance to meet Teresa but after a chat with another incredible staff member named Lisa we learned that dreams like this don't just happen accidentally. These types of dreams are strategic yet risky, calculated yet full of faith, realistic but hopeful.
We were absolutely smitten by the charming decor and ambiance of the place already...and then the food came. I'm not a foodie, I can't tell you about flavor profiles, notes or whatever the heck umami is. What I can tell you is that the "International Soul Food" at Old Skool is freaking delicious. In order of my favorites we had:
Taumoepeau Ota - a diced swai dish served with fresh tortilla chips. This is one of the best appetizers I've ever had and was easily the favorite thing I ate all night. It's a special in house recipe belonging to one of the youths families.
Abu's West African Peanut Butter Stew- chicken, peanut butter, garlic, coconut milk. Save me. Delicious.
Jordan's Fried Chicken- ummm it's fried chicken. And it's the way it's supposed to be.
Mac and Cheese- creamy and cheesy. We saw a chef using a blow torch to get the top perfect.
Lavender Cheesecake- I was weirded out by the idea of food that tastes like flowers but our lovely, knowledgable waitress recommended it and it was stellar.
Right about now you might be thinking "Wow, this chick can eat". To which I will reply "Yes, and I ate it all. And I'm not mad about it".
We were lucky enough to pop into the kitchen and snap a few shots of the staff. When we got into the back the young man who is normally the chef was washing dishes. When we asked him about his role that evening he said "Yeah, we all do everything. It helps everyone learn when they get a chance to challenge themselves and try a new role. Plus washing the dishes keeps me humble". Wow.
If you are in San Francisco or anywhere even near to it you really need to check out Old Skool Cafe. We talked about our experience there for days and it was certainly my favorite part of the trip . Check out the video and learn more about the incredible work happening at Old Skool and finds ways you can support their vision on their website.
Much love to Lisa for helping us make this happen!