BELMONT – Cherubs Café is nestled in downtown with a cheery black-and-white storefront accented with touches of yellow; the umbrellas, throw pillows and even the halo in the restaurant sign all shimmer like gold in the early afternoon light. The interior of the space glows with a different kind of radiance as the cheerful employees take orders, deliver food and check on patrons.
The restaurant is staffed with developmentally disabled workers who have been vetted, interviewed and trained just like any other server. The result is a beautiful microcosm of how the world would look if people simply overcame prejudices and extended a hand to those in need. Oh, and the food is really excellent as well.
Cherubs Café opened in downtown Belmont 23 years ago as part of the nonprofit organization Holy Angels, which provides care for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and delicate medical conditions.
“When the Café began they were just putting in the sidewalks in Belmont,” laughed Vice President of Community Relations Sister Nancy Nance.
The workers at Holy Angels realized the people in their care needed, just like every other human, meaningful employment and a paycheck of their own. So the cafe is meant to provide purposeful work for people who are “differently able,” yet still very capable of working in the hospitality industry.
“The business helps us achieve our overall mission of creating work opportunities for people with developmental disabilities,” Nance said.
Each worker has a one-on-one job coach to help them throughout each shift should any issues arise.
“It’s a place of loving, living and learning,” Nance said. “Our food and service really set us apart from the regular restaurant.”
The entire space was recently remodeled with new floors, seating and a fresh new look.
“We really needed to renovate,” Nance said. “And it turned out really well.”
Customers now walk up to the counter to order, and then the food is delivered to the table.
The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. However, from 5-7:30 p.m. it is ice cream and basic, non-grill food items only.
The menu is full of healthy fare and classic favorites as well.
Breakfast items include egg dishes such as breakfast pies, plus pancakes, french toast, waffles and crepes; try the Banana Mudslide topping option with bananas and Nutella.
Lunch includes salads, wraps, sandwiches, quiche and soups. The majority of menu items are made in-house, including the famous Pecan Chicken Salad, which sells out almost daily. Don’t miss the Ham on Main with Black Forest ham, melted Swiss cheese and spicy brown mustard pressed on marble rye bread.
The simplicity of quality ingredients mingles most pleasantly for a delightful lunch. The delicious sides offered with each wrap and sandwich range from homemade potato salad, coleslaw and pasta salad to carrot and raisin salad and black bean salad.
For dessert, the Café uses Tony’s Ice Cream, which is a local favorite from Gastonia. The Banana Split has scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream smothered in pineapple, hot fudge, nuts and strawberry toppings between fresh sliced bananas. Or try the Hot Fudge Sundae with a homemade brownie, vanilla ice cream, real hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top. Milkshakes, pecan tarts and cookies are also available.
The restaurant is simply a little slice of Heaven for customers to enjoy here on Earth. People come for the delicious food and the happy waitstaff.
“Eating at Cherubs Café simply shows that we are all able,” Nance said. “Plus you’ll never leave here without a great meal and a big smile.”