Denverites love their java, and this fall, we’ll have yet another locally-owned spot to get our fix. But this café has a decidedly different business model—Purple Door Coffee House also serves up a steady paycheck to homeless teens hoping to leave street life behind them.
Co-creators Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud brought Purple Door to fruition after they both interned at Dry Bones Denver, an organization that serves homeless youths in downtown Denver. “Dry Bones has always wanted to have their own business—to support street kids who didn’t want to live that life anymore,” Chandler says. “They dreamed of opening a coffee house.”
Today, the pair wants to employ five people at a time, for six to 12 months. “It’s a transitional job opportunity, so six to 12 months is kind of a sweet spot for that,” Smesrud says. “It’s enough time to train, but it’s not so long that they settle into it being their permanent job. We want them to graduate to a permanent job in the community.”
In addition to training the employees as baristas, Purple Door will teach general life skills like budgeting and resume-making, but the main focus is on-the-job training. “You can spew information at them all day, but until it becomes practical, it doesn’t really stick,” Smesrud says.
Get Involved: Donate to Purple Door here. Or, stop by the shop at 2962 Welton Street for your coffee fix from 7 a.m.—3 p.m. Monday though Saturday.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock