Many gourmet restaurants are strictly for adults, but at the Flying Zucchini Café, children are everywhere. They are escorting customers to their tables, conscientiously taking down orders on notepads, and frantically preparing entrees in the kitchen. If you haven’t made a reservation, don’t even try to get past the first graders who are checking the list at the door—they will not let you in.
The kindergarteners and first through fifth graders at Agassiz Baldwin Afterschool spend months preparing to open the café for two evenings each year. “What makes [the Flying Zucchini Café] great is that it allows all age groups an opportunity to be part of the café,” says Agassiz Baldwin Afterschool teacher Rachel Laine. Students fill out job applications, attend trainings with Agassiz Baldwin staff, and throw themselves into their responsibilities with the kind of enthusiasm that only school children can muster.
The café draws numerous patrons, including local civic leaders, proud grandparents, and tolerant siblings. For the children who run the café, the experience provides more than the opportunity to learn job skills; it gives them a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. Maria Laine, Director of Children’s Programs, says she loves to “see kids change because they take on a new role. Suddenly the kids become very polite, very sincere. They take themselves very seriously.”
In order to keep the crowds manageable for the Flying Zucchini Cafe Employees, the cafe is open only to friends and family of Agassiz Baldwin Community Afterschool students. For more information, contact Maria Laine, Director of Children’s Programs.