Venice on Vine: Good Food for a Good Cause
We all like good food. We all like good causes. What would you think about supporting a place that combines both of these good things?
Let me tell you about a restaurant in Over The Rhine. Venice on Vine is one of the outreach programs of Power Inspires Progress.
PIP operates small businesses in the inner city to provide positive, meaningful work opportunities for adults with employment barriers. We teach basic education, life skills, work ethics and personal responsibility. Trainees gain the knowledge and experience to be successful in the workforce.
How does their program work? Venice on Vine is a restaurant that has both a traditional sit down dining room as well as catering. They hire people the other business owners would consider at-risk to hire. Employees might not have a high school diploma, they may not have finished middle school. Others may have spent time in jail or they might be fresh out of a rehab center. For these and other reasons, they are finding it hard to secure employment. We all know and understand that without being able to find employment, trouble awaits these young people that are trying to get back on their feet.
The program starts them at the most basic of skills. Learning to wash dishes teaches responsibility and attention to details. Soon they move on to other stations learning new skills such as how to clean, chop and assist the chef in the main restaurant. The final stage of training is on the main restaurant serving floor where they learn to wait tables, handle money and interact with customers. By this time, they are confident to make and maintain eye contact, smile and speak comfortably to strangers.
Throughout their training at Venice on Vine, they continue to work on their education with local volunteers. While some may be preparing to start college others may be learning to read or basic math skills.
The program runs about a year in length. During this time, they work at the restaurant about 20 hours a week and have tutoring and coaching sessions with community volunteers who teach them computer skills, how to create a resume, practice interviewing and many other social skills they will need to gain adequate employment.
The CincyBlogger group was treated to a menu tasting and location tour at Venice on Vine. We were served a sampling of dishes from their in house and catering menus:
The food was excellent! I loved the West African Vegan Stew. I can’t wait to have that again. The Chicken Marsala was tender and so flavorful. Both of these would be great served at your next catered event.
Oh, and don’t forget the desserts! Their carrot cake alone is worth the drive downtown to enjoy.
Cincinnati has an awesome number of restaurants. Just the number in downtown is staggering! What makes Venice on Vine stand out is their heart for the community. So the next time you are in the downtown area looking for a place to eat, remember Venice on Vine (view menu). Not only will you enjoy a good meal, you will be helping out a great cause.
Have you been to Venice on Vine? What is your favorite dish?