Young Bloods: Luis Arocha
Café Hope, Executive Director
Inspired by the renowned Café Reconcile, Café Hope opened its doors in 2010. Its mission was simple: Recruit young people and train them for hospitality industry jobs by running a real-life café. And as Café Hope’s Executive Director Luis Arocha explains, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes of this bustling restaurant.
A nonprofit organization, Café Hope works with opportunity youth from the ages of 17 to 24 throughout the New Orleans area. Both full-service culinary training and important life skills courses are provided, preparing graduates for careers throughout the city. In addition to the challenges of managing a restaurant, Arocha also works with the marketing and development of Café Hope as a nonprofit. Despite these many duties, it’s clear that his focus is on the students and their wellbeing.
In fact, for much of the interview, Arocha shined the spotlight on Cafe Hope’s many success stories. The Steamboat Natchez, The Ritz-Carlton, Carrollton Market, Commander’s Palace and Coquette are just a few of the restaurants where Café Hope grads work in the kitchen. It is obvious the Café Hope family is proud of its quality graduates.
In recognition of its efforts, Café Hope was awarded the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Angel Award with a $20,000 grant. Arocha credits the organization’s staff, board and community members for their efforts to change the lives of these young people.
If members of the community would like to support Café Hope, donations to the organization are always welcome. But perhaps the best and most enjoyable way to help out is by visiting the restaurant in person for a meal. “Honestly, the food here is spectacular,” said Arocha. After all, his staff includes people from some of the best restaurants in New Orleans. Patrons get a great meal at a great value, and every penny goes back to the community. Whether you join them for brunch, lunch, or dinner, a meal at Café Hope is about much more than the food.
One Timberlane Drive, Gretna
Tuesdays- Fridays lunch: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Fridays dinner: 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Saturdays-Sundays brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.