Regional Dining Guide

Restoration Café: Serving Food and Coffee for a Cause

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This cozy hangout on Rockford’s west side encompasses more than a great cup of coffee and a sandwich. Find out how every purchase can help Rockford Rescue Mission residents.

Restoration Café serves to transition Rockford Rescue Mission residents to off-campus employment. It’s a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.

Restoration Café serves to transition Rockford Rescue Mission residents to off-campus employment. It’s a popular spot for breakfast and lunch. (Lynne Conner photo)

 

Dining at Rockford Rescue Mission’s Restoration Café, 625 W. State Street, encompasses more than service with a smile. It’s service with a story.

The Mission provides assistance to the homeless, near-homeless, addicted and working poor of the Rock River Valley. The café opened in 2009 as a vocational training program and serves to transition Mission residents to off-campus employment. According to Teresa Reeverts, Rockford Rescue Mission director of program support services, Mission residents who work at Restoration Café can choose to pursue an advanced vocational track and become certified food service managers.

Beyond providing vocational training, Restoration Café functions as a popular downtown spot for breakfast and lunch.

“We have a lot of judges and lawyers who eat here and they have been wildly supportive of our cafe,” Reeverts says.

That continued support is no doubt due to specialty items on the café’s menu.

“Our pulled pork sandwich is a signature dish and our breakfast sandwiches are out of this world,” Reeverts says. Soups are another staple, with an assortment of options. The café also serves a variety of specialty coffee drinks including lattes, espressos, frappes and more.

Breakfast choices at Restoration Café range from oatmeal, pastries and muffins to quiches and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch items include a variety of chicken and veggie wraps; turkey, ham, beef and pork sandwiches; salads; combination plates and daily specials. All of the café’s menu items are priced at under eight dollars for a sandwich or wrap, which comes with a pickle and choice of chips, potato salad or a fruit cup.

Restoration Café is working to garner status in the local restaurant scene, Reeverts adds. Recently, the staff participated in a community foodie event.

“We were nominated to participate in ‘Rockford’s Best Dish,’ so here we were competing with all these fancy restaurants in town,” Reeverts says. “We featured our pulled pork and Italian beef. While we didn’t win anything, we got lots of rave reviews for our dishes and exposure for the café.”

As reflected in its name, Restoration Café not only helps residents of the Rockford Rescue Mission re-enter the workforce, but much of the café’s décor is fashioned out of repurposed furniture, doors and hardware.

One whole wall of the café features a reproduction of a Rockford Rescue Mission logbook from the 1970s, which annotates the names of people and the dates they accepted Christ into their lives. An enlarged photograph of Rockford Rescue Mission founders, G.O. and Nadine Pitney, graces the left side of the wall and a repurposed porch spindle serves as an accent. A beautifully carved antique door greets café customers and features a chalkboard welcome sign. Reeverts says the repurposed theme of the café is meant as a purposeful way of reminding people that change is always possible.

“Oftentimes, the people we work with at the Mission feel like they’re cast-off from society, but through our programs, they are transformed into something beautiful,” Reeverts says.

The café is open Mon.-Fri. from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has a drive-through window, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A private conference room can be reserved for free and the entire café can be rented out for parties of up to 75 people.

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