Written by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Photographs by Eyage Bowens
When dining at Max’s Positive Vibe Café, enjoying food prepared by Executive Chef Jason Alexander Mead as well as the area’s best chefs who visit, guests may forget that their culinary experience supports job programs for people with disabilities. But to the 300 graduates who’ve completed the training program, job success is the most delectable course.
Garth Larcen started the restaurant almost eight years ago, inspired by his son Max, who has muscular dystrophy. “He’d been out of college about a year or two,” Garth remembers, “and he was looking for work and not having a great deal of success. My wife and I spent a great deal of time taking him to places and it wasn’t leading to anything.”
As Max grew increasingly frustrated, Garth recalls, “He was about ready to sign off and give up.”
Garth had an idea: He wondered if he could open a restaurant that trained people with physical and cognitive disabilities. “We’d train them for other places,” he says, “but we’d also be a real viable restaurant.”