By Emily G. Peters
With more than a thousand nonprofits to look out for the well-being of others, in many ways Pasadena is a people-centric city. Hope Café and Catering is doing its part by bringing Hope—Helping One Person Every day—to those society may deem “unemployable.”
“Our mission is to reach the outcast, outsourced and overlooked—to teach them a trade, how to feed themselves, their family and the community,” said Chef Tony Lancaster, co-owner of Hope Café and Catering.
That’s what Lancaster and his team endeavor to do through their culinary work. A 30-year veteran of Pasadena’s food scene, Lancaster transformed the café from Kilroy’s Sandwich Factory into the 5,400 square foot kitchen it is today. Operated with his wife, Ann, the café was founded on a shared love of good food and commitment to better their community.
“Just imagine what our community would look and feel like if every single person helped someone every day,” said Lancaster. “My goal is to do this with someone I don’t know, don’t look like or live like.”
As a full-service café and catering business, the Hope Café team offers fully customizable menus with on- or off-site cooking, drop-off and tray service for virtually any cuisine. Gatherings of ten to 10,000 are within their scope, with all their food delivered in a refrigerated fleet of vehicles to ensure peak freshness. The café also goes beyond catering to provide full floral design and wedding coordination services—including the wedding cake and custom deserts.
Hope Café also donates 10% of all sales to local churches and nonprofits, like Fellowship Monrovia, Lake Avenue, Door of Hope and Share a Meal Pasadena. It’s Lancaster’s way of giving back his “first fruits” to a community that gave so much to him.
“At 16, I was a dishwasher in a local steakhouse, and one night the cook called in sick,” he explained. The young chef ultimately became the manager of the Cask n’ Cleaver chain of steakhouses before branching out as an entrepreneur. “I was given the opportunity that night to fill in—and have not looked back since.”
As Hope Café and Catering’s mission grows, so does its impact. Lancaster has been recognized for his efforts to uplift his community, especially in his commitment to hiring developmentally disabled adults. Lancaster’s central hope? That this spirit of support “spreads like wildfire.”
“My motto is that no one gets turned down that asks for help,” he said. “There is always something to do or give to someone in need.”
Hope Cafe and Catering 2094 E. Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena. Contact the team at www.hopecafeandcatering.com | 626.449.8757 | firstname.lastname@example.org and follow along on Facebook @hopecafeandcatering, Twitter @HopeCafe_Cater and Instagram @hopecafepasadena.