Old Skool Cafe is an unusual restaurant. Located in Bayview–Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, this youth-run jazz-themed supper club is operated through a faith-based violence prevention program that offers marketable employment skills in the restaurant industry to at-risk youth ages 16 to 22. They cook, wait tables, and provide the entertainment. The nonprofit program was started by a former corrections officer and unstoppable force named Teresa Goines, who ran the program out of her house for years. Ninety-two percent of the program’s attendees have earned high school diplomas, and 13 have started college since 2010.
Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio met Teresa through Golden State Warriors President and COO Rick Welts, and instantly wanted to help. Old Skool Cafe was in the middle of a renovation to reconfigure its cramped space to allow it to serve more customers, and Fedele brought in interior designer Gordana Jordanovska, who has worked on several Bon Appétit projects. She helped find the perfect speakeasy bar, and decorated an intimate private dining area as well the new performers’ balcony erected over the main entrance.
For Old Skool’s grand gala to celebrate the renovation and raise funds for the program, Teresa decided to thank the Warriors and Bon Appétit for their support by making Rick and Fedele the guests of honor, along with local matriarch Dorris Vincent, a board member of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, who was honored as a community hero. The Old Skool Cafe team worked with the Bon Appétit team at University of San Francisco to pull off the dinner for the Great Gatsby–themed gala. Old Skool Cafe Executive Chef Bradley Zeller and three Old School Cafe youth — Tobias, Elijah, and Kevin (last name withheld by preference) — went to the USF kitchen the day before the gala to prep ingredients with Executive Chef Joe DeBono and Resident District Manager Micah Cavolo.
“Working in the kitchen — it’s something I can see doing for a lifetime,” said Kevin in a video that Old Skool Café shot of the prep work and shared on Facebook.
Joe and his team were at Old Skool Cafe bright and early the next day to help Old Skool get ready, along with USF Director of Catering Dannie Stanton, who helped marshal Old Skool’s army of servers — all dressed in Roaring Twenties finery — and made sure the event went smoothly. Santa Clara University Executive Chef Mike Brinkmann and Executive Sous Chef Maurice Vallejo also assisted. The menu service, with entrée choices of West African peanut butter stew (a staple on Old Skool Cafe’s menu), beef short ribs, and shrimp and grits, and an array of mini dessert treats including pecan pie cheesecake, all went off without a hitch.
When it came time to present the awards, Fedele surprised everyone by calling Rick back up to the stage — and brought down the house when he said that Old Skool Café would have a presence at the Warriors’ new Chase Center arena opening next year.
“I’m only where I’m at because someone gave me the opportunity and opened that door,” Joe said in the Old Skool video. “I think it’s wonderful that Old Skool is providing those opportunities. It pays homage to the kitchen. The kitchen can provide many many things in life.