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Foodlink Opens Cafe in B&L Library Building

Staff report

Foodlink Community Cafe provides real-world experience for participants in the Foodlink Career Fellowship program. Provided by Foodlink

A new eatery that serves to launch careers in the food industry and nourish patrons has opened in the Central Library’s Bausch & Lomb building at 115 South Ave.

The Foodlink Community Café gives participants in the Foodlink Career Fellowship the opportunity to run an operation – from food prep to serving customers. The patrons get to support aspiring cooks and restaurateurs.

Foodlink Community Café is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patrons can pay the menu price or pay what they can afford – or contribute extra for people unable to cover the cost. Right now, all meals are takeout.

“We launched this café as an extension of our most transformative career empowerment initiative,” Julia Tedesco, president and chief executive officer of Foodlink, said of the Foodlink Career Fellowship.

Besides the training opportunities, the café is expected to offer fresh, nutritious lunch options and be a way for the community to learn more about Foodlink, Tedesco said in a news release announcing the café.

The café is in the space previously occupied by Starry Nights, Tim Horton’s and Simply Crepes.

“The staff, patrons, and neighbors of the Central Library are thrilled to have the cafe space open again and so excited to welcome Foodlink and their staff to the building,” library director Patty Uttaro said in the news release.

“We are especially thankful for Foodlink’s innovative approach to this project, which not only provides affordable nourishment to all but also provides valuable customer-facing experience for the staff behind the counter. We look forward to seeing the ‘pay what you can/pay it forward’ model succeed,” she said.

The Foodlink Career Fellowship is an official New York State cook apprenticeship. The first two graduating classes helped 13 fellows launch their careers in the regional food industry, and a third class is finishing their training this spring.

Foodlink is recruiting for its fourth class, which is scheduled to begin in July. Interested applicants must be nominated by a community-based organization, employer or mentor. Go to for details about the application process.

The Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation and Jobs for the Future provided funding to support curriculum development for the Foodlink Career Fellowship. Wegmans Food Markets and Singer Equipment Company donated equipment.

For more on the café, go to, or @FoodlinkCommunityCafe on Facebook and Instagram.