by Madison Cook
Cane’s? Chipotle? Which Which? What about Scot’s Café? And no, Scot’s Café isn’t another new fast food joint. This café is far more special.
Scot’s Café is part of the Transition Program for special needs students at Highland Park High School, in which students, ages 18 to 22, learn tasks to prepare for jobs post-high school.
Rather than traditional classroom instruction, these students learn through their experiences with Scot’s Café—cooking, shopping and organizing the restaurant’s services entirely on their own.
Program Coordinator Yvette Cardenas, a 17-year teaching veteran, says Scot’s Café is allowing students to acquire invaluable teamwork and leadership skills that will carry them through life. “What better way to start than in the kitchen? Everyone is familiar with all the skills one can learn when cooking, measuring out recipes, and socializing.”
The young chefs don wide grins as they prepare and serve up freshly baked potatoes along with smoked pulled pork and other fixings to the school’s faculty. And they haven’t stopped there. Scot’s Café has become so popular that it has now extended beyond just the high school lunch scene to weekend catering jobs, including the North Texas Irish Festival, Taste of Dallas festival and local elementary schools.
“Scot’s Café has given the students a newfound sense of self-worth and responsibility,” says Cardenas. “ It’s a concept that has made the Transition Program that much more meaningful and purposeful.” Not only do the students get excited when they have another catering job, but the parents and Highland Park community also find joy in watching the students take ownership of Scot’s Café.
In addition to the fun factor, Cardenas adds that the most important aspect of Scot’s Café is that it has significantly strengthened the students’ self-confidence. Through catering, the students have learned to shine and showcase their abilities, rather than find themselves defined by their disabilities.
Now how’s that for a lunch-time treat?