Local Restaurant & Local Bakery Team Up for the Greater Good
Spurred by TheMetropreneur’s ASPIRE event in September, a partnership between local social enterprises Double Comfort and Food for Good Thought will connect the causes of employing individuals with Autism and feeding the city’s food insecure.
Double Comfort owner Mary Lyski and Food for Good Thought co-owner Sarah Duplessis are in the business of helping the community. Double Comfort, a southern-inspired restaurant established in 2008, donates all of its profits to local and regional food pantries. Lyski calls it a win-win; people get good, comforting southern fare, and the money they use to pay for it comforts the chronically hungry with another meal.
Its purpose was to contribute to food security causes without setting up another food pantry begging for dollars from funders like Huntington Bank and The Foundation.
“I thought, ‘What if I just become the revenue stream?’ Lyski recalled. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I don’t want to be another food pantry, but what if I can help the ones that are existing?”
Thus, Double Comfort was born. Every six months, Lyski cuts a check to a new pantry. As chosen by a 12-person charitable advisory board, the latest donation went to NNEMAP, on 5th Avenue, and was good for 84,000 meals. Their previous picks were the Clintonville CRC and Holy Rosary, on Ohio Avenue.
After learning about Food for Good Thought and the bakery’s mission to not only employ individuals with Autism, but act as a connective employment agency, Lyski asked Duplessis if she could get involved by selling Food for Good Thought’s pies at Double Comfort.
“As part of [the mission] we felt that we had to help, you know, all of the community that we can,” Lyski said. “And I loved hearing about what they’re doing, and their pies looked delicious. So I called them and had them come over and tried some.”
From there it stuck. Double Comfort’s dessert menu will feature Food for Good Thought’s apple pies. For the holiday season, when Lyski offers meals for four, a pecan pie will come with the turkey and traditional sides. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that means more business for Duplessis, who said orders have been pouring in ever since being named Social Enterprise of the Year at ASPIRE. Double Comfort was a finalist.
“Since winning the award, as well as all of the other things that have happened in the last couple of weeks, we are slammed,” said Duplessis while winding down with a bit of cake decorating. “I mean, it is crazy. It’s insane.”
Yeah, Columbus residents get excited about local businesses and local causes. Combining both, Duplessis’ surge in customers is only expected. The bakery, offering a gluten-free menu, was founded and is co-owned by Dr. Audrey Todd. Todd’s son, who is on the spectrum, inspired the cause while his diet, limited to gluten-free food, prompted the menu. But rather than being just a bakery who employs individuals with Autism, Duplessis said they wanted to find other jobs for people who don’t like baking or who have a mindset for completely different work.
“We have a client right now who has a masters degree in applied mathematics, and he would never fit into our bakery model,” Duplessis said. “So the reason we went more towards the employment agency side is because there are so many people with Autism that have so many different interests, and with our employment agency we are able to explore all of those interests and get them in a position that fits them.”
People looking for employment at Food for Good Thought will be redirected to government agencies, like the Department of Developmental Disabilities or Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. Funding through those agencies means families of individuals’ with special needs won’t have to pay out of pocket for the bakery’s services.
Along with their services as an employment agency, Food for Good Thought also partners with Growlers, a local business using spent grains from breweries to make dog biscuits. And next fall they’re hoping to extend this new partnership with Double Comfort by starting an Americorps program.
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