By Debbie Gregory.
Many of today’s Veterans are having difficulty finding work. A big obstacle that unemployed Vets face is gaining recognizable work experience. Employers want to hire workers who have experience. Unemployed Veterans in Milwaukee are being given a chance to work and gain valuable experience at a restaurant called the Troop Café.
The Troop Café is located on the ground floor of Milwaukee’s Veterans Manor, on Wisconsin Avenue. Veterans Manor provides local Veterans with 52 affordable one bedroom apartments, as well as support services that include employment coaching, benefits information, and substance abuse therapy. Other amenities at Veterans Manor include free internet, a gym, community room, access to public transportation and the Troop Café, a place to eat and maybe even work.
The non-profit restaurant opened in May of 2013. The Troop Café serves two distinct missions. First off, the cafe benefits local Veterans by providing previously homeless and unemployed Veterans with a place to work and gain work experience. Troop Café is a pioneer in helping Veterans to succeed in the civilian workforce. The restaurant is run and operated by Veterans. After their 6-9 months of training and gaining experience at the Troop Café, the Veteran employees will be ready to take the Wisconsin SafeServ certification exam. Once the exam is completed, Certified Vets will then be placed in full-time positions with employers in the culinary and hospitality fields.
Secondly, the Troop Café provides quality food to a neighborhood that previously only offered convenience stores and a hot dog shop for diners on the go. Most of the restaurant’s food is made from scratch, and the meals have creative, military-friendly names: B-52 Meatball Bomber, Cuban Pickle Crisis, Buffalo Soldier Chicken Wrap, Deep Diver Tuna Wrap, Beach Landing Melt, Sloppy GI Joe, the Chow Hall Special, the 2nd Lieutenant Breakfast, with many more delicious items that have more civilian sounding names. Employees at the Troop Café wear khaki slacks, brown aprons with the restaurant’s name, and tan military-style garrison caps. They serve up a variety of great tasting food for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday.