All proceeds from Plates Cafe benefit women in need

Erika Bradley

With a unique concept of having its entire proceeds go to a non-profit organization, Plates Cafe assists homeless women in Sacramento through employment while serving gourmet style entrees.

Plates Cafe partnered with St. John’s Shelter Program For Real Change to help women in need gain work experience as well as provide career, mental health, respite services and on-the-job training.

“Every single penny we make, every proceed from every catering [and] every person who eats here, all the money goes back to the women’s shelter,” said manager Michele Socik.

Located at 14 Business Parkway, Plates is open for lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Plates caters and holds events in its building, which is the reason behind the limited hours.

The main concept behind Plates is its Employee Training Program, which teaches women from the shelter how to work in the restaurant industry.

Employee Cherrae Rushton never had restaurant experience before joining but has been working at Plates since February.

“What makes us unique is the Employee Training Program,” Rushton said. “[Plates] trains employees that have never worked in a restaurant setting before. They train [employees to] where they can get that type of experience so they are able to attain a job.”

Plates’ head chef, Misty Greene, said she was inspired to work at Plates to help those in need.

“I really wanted to use the skills that I have to do something good in the world, so I really like the Employee Training Program [and] the training element of it [by] actually being able to teach people and help them gain employment skills,” Greene said.

Greene said the restaurant menu mostly consists of pasta, sandwiches and salads while the catering menus vary depending on what the customer wants.

Rushton said while she has not had the opportunity to cook at Plates, she observed different positions in the kitchen to see learn how to prepare meals.

“Working with the customers [and] learning how to cook from scratch is very exciting to me,” Rushton said. “I’ll be better prepared to cook meals for my kids.”

The decor of the restaurant represents the women who have and are currently in the program. Alongside one wall are pictures of some of the graduates and their children.

On another wall, there is a tree drawn on with three-dimensional plates partially sticking out  and leaves with names of people who have donated a $1,000 or more.  

Before Plates partnered with St. John’s, women were provided with a service to help create resumes but did not provide work experience.

“All of the women who work here, except a few of us that are paid employees, live at St. John’s Women’s Shelter or live in houses around the area,” Socik said. “So the work here is called ‘Volunteer Training.’ They don’t get paid to work here, instead of getting paid,  their housing, their food,  clothing [is paid for] and then they work here in its place.”

The women in the Employee Training Program work four days a week for a total of 24 hours each week.

Rushton works in the front of the house as a server, but said she worked her first catering event earlier this month.

“It was my first time working at an event,” Socik said. “We sold box lunches, (which) consisted of a sandwich, a cookie, chips and a drink.”

Rushton said she would like to one day have a job that involves some type of event planning.

Plates has a second location in Midtown located at 1725 L St., called Plates2Go.  Proceeds from this location also go to St. John’s Shelter.