Café Momentum’s Field of Dreams: How an Unconventional Business Model Scored a Home Run

Café Momentum’s Field of Dreams: How an Unconventional Business Model Scored a Home Run

By Bev Garvin, Foodable Contributor

When Executive Chef Chad Houser came up with the idea to eat, drink, and change lives by teaching juvenile delinquents how to play with fire and knives, some may have thought his dream to build a restaurant was somewhere out in left field.

But after four years of hosting countless pop-up dinners, working with approximately 160 juvenile delinquents and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from event fundraising, corporate sponsorships and grants, Café Momentum opened its doors to the public last week.

The plan was simple - host a series of pop-up dinners in various local restaurants until they had raised enough to build their own place, while working with teens in trouble to teach them valuable job skills and help them become productive members of the community.

The kids who enter the Café Momentum program are trained in five different positions of the restaurant from the front-of-the-house to the back-of-the-house, so they can not only learn essential skills, but also discover the kind of jobs they enjoy. It’s a second chance for the troubled teens; it builds their self-esteem and inspires them to see what they are able to accomplish. There’s even an “I am thankful” art installation, with custom designed plates, that expresses things they’re thankful for. When you see it, you begin to understand just how powerful the Café Momentum program really is.

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Café Momentum - Reformed Youth turned Chefs

In this episode of On Foodable Side Dish, brought to you by Foodable Network, Foodable Dallas video correspondent Rebecca Combs takes us to a pop-up dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty restaurant to explore Café Momentum, an organization that teaches young juvenile men — who have recently been detained or released — about the restaurant industry by working pop-up dinners. Tune in to see how Café Momentum has the Dallas community talking! To learn more about this inspirational organization, please visit