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Hugs Cafe

Featured Article

More Than A Restaurant

Hugs Cafe Is Dedicated To Training And Employing Adults With Disabilities

Hugs Cafe Inc. stands as a beacon of hope, understanding, grace and success for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded with a mission to enhance lives through training and employment, this nonprofit organization is changing the narrative by focusing on what individuals can achieve, rather than their limitations.

Lauren Smith, Hugs Cafe executive director, expresses the organization's commitment: "We envision a world where people are recognized for the things they can do rather than the things they cannot."

Beyond being a restaurant, Hugs Cafe is dedicated to training and employing adults with disabilities. With 23 employees at the Cafe, and a total staff of 44 across all programs, including the Greenhouse and Training Academy, Hugs Cafe has become a model for inclusive hiring, especially for food and customer service roles.

“Hugs Cafe partners with businesses for volunteering, product donation, catering sales and general advocacy of inclusive hiring,” says Lauren. 

The significance of a business like Hugs Cafe extends far beyond its delicious menu offerings, which include sandwiches, salads, soup and the ever-popular Wedding Cake Cookie. Lauren emphasizes Hugs Cafe is also a place of hope for families seeking acceptance and opportunities for their loved ones with disabilities.

Expanding its impact, Lauren says Hugs is set to partner with Dallas College in 2024 to launch a second site of the Hugs Training Academy. Additionally, the organization is mentoring other nonprofits interested in implementing inclusive culinary training and hiring concepts in their communities.

Hugs Cafe actively participates in various events throughout McKinney, from the Byron Nelson golf tournament to the Holiday Parade and social dances. Lauren, beyond her executive director role, serves on the McKinney Inclusion Council Steering Committee, Mainstreet Board, and is a new member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a women's culinary society.

Community support is important for the success of Hugs Café, reminds Lauren. Volunteer via the website, make a donation, attend events like the upcoming Hugs Gala on Feb. 17, or even consider joining the board of directors. Cafe supporters also developed a strategic growth plan, with a vision to expand its brand and programs across the country over the next five years, supporting nonprofits, families and educational institutions seeking their innovative, inclusive solutions.

Hugs Cafe Inc. is more than a restaurant; it's a community hub, a symbol of empowerment and a testament to the impact of embracing abilities over disabilities. "The Cafe exemplifies the profound change that can occur when a community rallies around a vision of inclusion and success for everyone," Lauren says.

Hugs Cafe Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Shoutout to Ruth Thompson, the founder of Hugs Cafe Inc., for being on television via The Kelly Clarkson Show.

"Hugs Cafe focuses on what individuals can achieve, rather than their limitations."

  • Hugs Cafe
  • Daystar Landcapes "30 Anniversrary" with HUGS cater their nonprofit catering with wonderful event.