Happy Holiday Story: The Tale of Café Momentum in Dallas

Houser quit his day job to work with the kids.(Photography by Elizabeth Lavin)

In the December issue of D Magazine, Carol presents the tale of two chefs, Chad Houser and Janice Provost, and how they joined forces to create Café Momentum. 

The Dallas County Youth Village, a sort of halfway house for boys age 10 to 17 who have a history of committing nonviolent crimes, sits on 53 acres of rural southern Dallas. Two chefs, Chad Houser and Janice Provost, got the idea to teach these young men skills they could use to land jobs in the restaurant business. Their program is called Cafe Momentum, which is also an itinerant pop-up restaurant staffed by the Youth Villagers.

The 15th Cafe Momentum dinner took place on October 7, the same day a cold front caught Dallas by surprise. By 6:15 pm that Saturday, bundled guests started settling down into the industrial metal chairs scattered inside Acme F&B. Eight boys from the Youth Village worked the room like they’d been doing it all their lives. The boys, dressed in professional chef coats, smiled as they carefully placed romaine salads with hearts of palm in front of each person. They said their “yes, ma’am”s and “yes, sir”s. People were impressed. For having spent only $100 on an elegant four-course meal, guests witnessed firsthand how their money went toward transforming the lives of youths who came from challenging backgrounds.

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