Find ‘Good Food That Does Great Things’ At Better Day Café
“Good food that does great things,” is for sale at the Newtown Community Center’s Better Day Café. Open to any Fairfield Hills guests from 8:30 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday, the café serves coffee and tea, bakery items such as cookies and muffins, snack plates, hummus and cheese, lunch plates, quiche, salads, soup, all-natural dog biscuits, and additional merchandise.
Aside from offering guests a coffee and bite to eat, the café also serves its staff — students ages 18-21 of Newtown Community Partnership, (NCP), a three-year, after-high school program for special needs students in the Newtown Public Schools transition program, as stated in a café flyer.
By working behind the café counter and in its kitchen, the students “work on math skills, communication, baking, customer service, selling skills, and inventory,” said Jennifer Radachowsky, an NCP special education teacher.
Also working the cafe with the students are NCP job coaches Sallie Barlow and Mandy Monaco.
Smiling from behind the displays of fresh-baked cookies, muffins, and one example of a Halloween cookie decorated with a spider — an upside-down mini peanut butter cup and drawn-in legs, Johnny Nowacki said he likes the café.
“I go in the kitchen and bake,” although he said he had “baked before.” He said, “I greet customers and give out wrist bands to the pool. Sometimes I clean.” The job is fun, he said. Another student, Jackie Magoon, agreed.
Jesse Viesto said she works to clean windows and tables and showed off the muffins baked “this morning, baked fresh from scratch.”
Located in the center’s main lobby, guests can find the café window overlooking the pool room and enjoy a view of swim activity from a booth or table.
Johnny added that he likes the tie between working in back and cleaning and being out front where he “gets to see everybody.”
Community Center Director Matthew Ariniello said, “We are proud to host this new partnership with [Newtown Public Schools], which will enrich the lives of their students as they transition from school to career. The Better Day Café has been well-received by the community, and we are thoroughly enjoying the students being part of the daily routine at the center. It has been great to see visitors who are walking the campus utilize this service, along with so many of our community members. The students are gaining valuable life skills each and every day while interacting with members of their own community.”
Beyond serving community center guests, the café staff also pushes a cart of snacks and lunch items across the street to Newtown Municipal Center weekdays.
Michelle Brown, who stopped for a coffee on Tuesday, October 8, said the work the NCP staff and students do is “amazing.” She said, “Mandy’s [Monaco] enthusiasm and the people she supports is infectious. Everyone is better for it.”
The café flyer states, “Please help support our mission of improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities, bringing people of all ability levels together, and creating an inclusive community environment while enjoying some really good food.”
The café and Newtown Community Center are located at 8 Simpson Street.