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NYC café dedicated to employees with mental disabilities opens

“I would like to have a job like yours too.”

French entrepreneur Yann Boucaille-Lacrezac recalls the day he met Theodore, a boy on the autism spectrum, while on a cruise with the organization he founded for people with special needs.

“He came to me and said, ‘I hear you’re my boss, can you give me the job?'” Bucaille Lacrezac told the Post. Told.

Sarah Parks, assistant manager and head trainer, oversees crew member Nick Stanford pouring warmed milk into coffee behind the counter. Aristide Economopoulos

When Bucaille-Lacrezac told Théodore that he didn’t have a job, the boy replied: I know there are obstacles that help me. I also want to get a job like yours. ”

Bucaille-Lacrezac began to realize that the best philanthropy wasn’t just about putting people on boats.

Those memories led me to open Bucaille Lacrezac. Cafe Joyeuxis a French family of inclusive cafe-restaurants that only employs people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, giving opportunities to people who might not otherwise have a disability.

“They’re capable. We want to show the world that it’s possible,” he told the Post. “It’s about getting them to be part of society, to be part of the game, to have a role.”

The Upper East Side cafe opened Thursday. This day also happened to be World Down Syndrome Day, so it was a symbolic day.

Café Joyeux is an all-inclusive French cafe-restaurant located at 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Aristide Economopoulos
Parks hugs crew member Diana Oquendo. Aristide Economopoulos

More than 7 million Americans have a mental or cognitive disability, and 80% of them are unemployed, but Bucaille-Lacrezac wants to change that.

For most of the crew, this is their first job. But now they have learned to be independent and commute by public transport. Some people were able to get an apartment for the first time.

Employee Troy Providenti told the Post that all employees are trained for every job, including cashiers, servers, baristas and dishwashers.

“That’s the best way for them to grow,” Bucaille Lacrezac explained. “What matters to them is their impact on humans. We want them to thrive.”

General Manager Shuray Campbell, who has 15 years of experience, said this job is different because everyone is “very grateful” to be there.

“With these employees, they want to work hard,” she said. “So you want to help them, and we always set new goals for them so they can learn new things.”

“They deserve high aspirations. They deserve quality. They deserve the best,” added Bucaille Lacrezac.

Cafe Joyeux staff list.Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Coffee is available at Café Joyeux's Midtown location
Coffee is available at Café Joyeux’s Midtown location.Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images


Products will be available at Café Joyeux's Midtown store in Manhattan, New York City on March 15, 2024. Café Joyeux is located in the heart of New York business. "comprehensive" A French restaurant chain staffed by people with autism and Down syndrome is setting up shop in a U.S. job market that is virtually closed to people with mental and cognitive disabilities. "Cafe Joyeux Lexington" It is scheduled to be launched on March 21, 2024 (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Goods sold at Cafe Joyeux.Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images


The ultimate goal is to change the way society views disability, and Bucaille Lacrezac believes the Big Apple is the place to do that.

“New York is a city of success, a city of pride, a city of diversity,” he said, adding that all kinds of people come for coffee, “and we can show them it’s possible.” he added.

“It’s a joy for them to have a job and prove themselves.”