AspenPointe Café is the social enterprise component of AspenPointe, a behavioral healthcare provider in the Colorado Springs area. Patients facing a wide range of barriers to employment are trained in the culinary arts and placed in jobs across all areas of food service.
AspenPointe is one of the largest nonprofits in Colorado Springs and provides a broad continuum of care, including mental health and substance abuse services and career and education enhancement programs for individuals and families. They collaborate with local clergy, educators, employers, other health and human service organizations and the legal/criminal justice system to leverage their collective resources and better their community and the lives of its residents.
The café is an extension of AspenPointe’s mission and works to gives back to the community through free job training. At the heart of the social enterprise is an internationally acclaimed 16-week culinary training program, which trains between 60 and 70 students each year. The students are patients in recovery and include the homeless, formerly incarcerated, at-risk youth, disabled veterans, those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury and others facing barriers to employment.
After students graduate from the vocational culinary program, they are placed in jobs in restaurants, cafes, hotels, assisted living facilities, universities, casinos, high schools, food trucks and other food service roles. These job opportunities are crucial and life changing, especially at a time when the national unemployment rate for individuals receiving public mental health services is approximately 80 percent. In 2016, AspenPointe Café trained 63 students, saving taxpayers an estimated $688,000 in unemployment compensation and other social support services.
At AspenPointe Café, healthy meals are prepared fresh daily using quality meats, real butter, fresh eggs and fresh produce and avoid foods full of fats, sodium and preservatives. Passionate, highly experienced cooks employ customer-proven recipes for the demanding and diverse palates of 350 to 400 daily diners. Prices are kept 30 to 40% lower than local restaurants for the building staff and up to 1,000 daily visitors. In addition to daily dining and culinary training, AspenPointe has a catering venture that serves 55,000 guests per year in commercial, retail, manufacturing, ministry, higher education, government, healthcare, military and hospitality sectors.
Furthermore, the café has been the recipient of several international and national awards. In 2015 and 2017, AspenPointe Catering was the Runner-Up in the International Catering Association’s Caterer of the Year – the top catering award in the world. AspenPointe Café won Catersource’s 2015 national “Bright Idea” Award for its unique approach to recovery, culinary training and employment opportunities for mental health clients.
AspenPointe joined the SEA to learn best practices from other social enterprises and pass along some of their insight to others. Critical to its organizational plan, AspenPointe is a Model Member of Catalyst Kitchens (another SEA member).
To learn more about AspenPointe, check out their member directory profile.