CAP takes over unique cafe for job training program

Lower Columbia CAP has expanded its new coffee shop to serve Cowlitz County employees.

On Nov. 13, the area’s largest non-government social service agency took over the Court House Cafe on the ground floor of the Cowlitz County administration building at 207 Fourth Ave. North in Kelso.

The cafe is an offshoot of Grounds for Opportunity, the quaint cafe that CAP opened in August in downtown Kelso to provide job-training opportunities for CAP clients. CAP officials say the location at the county building allows students to train to become baristas.

Grounds for Opportunity’s mission “is to give people with barriers to employment the opportunity to gain skills,” said Tammy Davies, CAP’s senior nutrition and care services program manager.

Grounds for Opportunity, which includes the new cafe, is CAP’s newest social service enterprise, costing the agency $700,000. The bulk of the money came from CAP board member pledges.

The Court House Cafe previously was run by private owners under names that included Coffee Court and Java Addiction, and county officials said they were happy to welcome CAP. The customer base is mostly limited to county employees and visitors, which makes a good training ground for CAP, county officials said.

“It gives our employees some place they can get some coffee and good pastries without leaving the building,” Cowlitz County Commissioner Mike Karnofski said.

Added County Director of Finance Claire Hauge: “I’ve heard nothing but positive comments. The selection of food is great. Fresh. Nutritional.”

The cafe serves fresh salads and sandwiches made at Grounds for Opportunity, coffee, drinks, breakfast items and other snacks.

Kindra Jones, 32, of Longview is one of the CAP employees operating the Court House Cafe, which operates 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on business days. In the coming weeks, CAP students will come work at the Court House Cafe after they “graduate” Grounds for Opportunity, Davies said.

Court House Cafe derives its name from the fact that the administration building decades ago also served as the county courthouse.

Jones, previously an in-home care provider for CAP, said she likes this new position working with the public.

“I’m learning to enjoy being around people,” she said.

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