On Monday, April 1, Manny Cid, Mayor of Miami Lakes, Florida, will celebrate the Grand Opening of his new restaurant, Mayor’s Café, a bagel, breakfast and lunch deli. The restaurant, located at 15478 NW 77th Court in Miami Lakes, will feature great food and will employ adults with autism.
Mayor Cid had the idea to open his own Mayor’s Café while having breakfast at the popular Mayor’s Café in Pembroke Pines. During his visits, he often met Miami Lakes residents enjoying a sit-down breakfast.
“There was a big need for this type of breakfast venue in Miami Lakes,” he said. Cid partnered with two local residents, Danny Delgado and Jeffrey Rodriguez, to open Mayor’s Café.
The restaurant has been serving a limited menu for a few weeks, during the “soft opening” phase.
“Nonetheless, it’s been doing a steady business,” Mayor Cid said.
From its inception, Cid, who formerly owned a local care center for adults with Parkinson’s and other disabilities, wanted his business to be able to accommodate a neurodiverse workforce.
“I can’t tell other businesses to have an inclusive workforce when I’m not one of the first to model it,” Cid said. He reached out to UM-NSU CARD, the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University, for guidance.
UM-NSU CARD, which is primarily funded by the state of Florida, partners with local businesses to offer the support and training necessary to accommodate adults with autism-spectrum disorders.
“Our hope is that we can create autism-friendly businesses and municipalities throughout South Florida,” executive director Michael Alessandri, Ph.D. explained. “Mayor Cid called me when he was working on the concept for the Café with the idea that he would like the business to be inclusive and represent a neurodiverse work environment. He asked if we could recommend potential employees with autism to work in the Café.”
CARD recommended 24-year-old David Bennett, who attended Marino Campus and graduated with a degree in hospitality. Bennett also received culinary training at a public culinary arts program. Since early March, he has trained and worked as a prep cook in the kitchen at Mayor’s Café. He said that he was first drawn to culinary arts because of his appreciation for good food.
His motivation is straightforward. “I like to be an independent adult,” Bennett said.
“This is a remarkable opportunity for my son. I have never seen him so fulfilled and valued. I am grateful that Mayor’s Cafe has the vision to include adults with autism in the workplace,” said Hilda Mitrani, Bennett’s mother.
According to Dr. Alessandri, there is a national rate of 80% of adults with autism spectrum disorders who are under or unemployed. “Adults with autism, like all people, want to be valued for their contributions, but they need to be given a chance to demonstrate that value in a work environment. That requires that business owners are trained, work environments are appropriately accommodated, and consumers are sensitized to encountering people with autism in various industries,” Alessandri added.
Mayor Cid has said that he seeks to address this need on a local level. In opening Mayor’s Café, he hopes to lead the way for other businesses to set up an inclusive work environment. “I’ve always felt that I have a moral obligation to be part of a solution,” he said.
15478 N.W. 77 Court (Royal Oaks Shopping Center) Miami Lakes, Florida
Open 7 days a week, 6:30 am – 3 pm