Old Skool Cafe Gives A Boost To Troubled Youth

Situated in the center of Bayview, arguably San Francisco’s toughest corner, the Old Skool Cafe is a sign of creeping gentrification in this historically impoverished neighborhood. Serving a popular menu of “international soul food,” the restaurant is a bright spot in an area that has long been overlooked in the city’s development.


In that sense, Teresa Goines couldn’t have chosen a better place to open her first restaurant. A former juvenile corrections officer in Southern California, Goines opened Old Skool Cafe to help young people who have also been left behind – some by their families, some by the schools, and many by the criminal justice system. Inspired by her work with young people in her former career, but frustrated with the lack of support given to young offenders, she envisioned the cafe as a place where at-risk youths could get that support.

Her vision has taken root: in six years, Old Skool Cafe has helped change the lives of more than 300 troubled youths. The cafe provides not only jobs, but career training and a built in mentoring system to at least 25 at-risk young people each year. According to Goines, 75% of the staff has been in trouble with the law; Old Skool Cafe gives them guidance, and a sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Tammy Vaitai, 22, is the youth manager of the restaurant, handling the scheduling, training and service. When she came to the cafe, she was withdrawn and shy, the product of a household plagued with violence. Vaitai has been involved with the cafe for five years, and credits it with turning her life around. She has nothing but praise for Goines: “She pushes you past your comfort zone and past whatever limits you give yourself,” Vaitai says. “She’s great at encouraging us to just dream big.”

For more about the Old Skool Cafe, read the recent story in Christian Science Monitor and the feature story from CNN. To find out how to get involved, visit the Old Skool Cafe website.


A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization

Federal Identification Number (EIN): 46-3416157

P.O. Box 6654
San Rafael, CA 94903