Last April, we introduced our readers to Old Skool Cafe (1429 Mendell St.), a nonprofit, jazz-themed supper club that trains and employs at-risk Bayview youth. Over the past year, the cafe has been busy fundraising and hiring new staff, and now it's adding a weekly gospel brunch to its lineup, starting this Saturday.
A gospel brunch "has been in the plan for years," said managing director Lisa Litsey. “We used to do a gospel brunch on Sundays, but a lot of people that originally came in were regular church attendees, so that made it difficult."
Litsey said Old Skool hopes to draw bigger crowds by hosting the brunch on Saturdays instead. "We’ve been hosting small soft openings, to get an idea of what people are looking for."
For opening day, the restaurant will feature an a cappella youth choir from Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, led by Bayview resident Brotha Swift. From there, they hope to host "a weekly mixture of community musicians, choirs from local churches and youth in the [Old Skool] program," Litsey said.
"Gospel music is what makes this brunch experience enjoyable ... We are not necessarily a religious nonprofit, but we believe this uplifting theme fits with the community. We expect a lot of locals to attend regularly."
"We’re still playing around with the menu," says Litsey, but diners can expect items like eggs Benedict ($13), a veggie scramble ($14), and the popular shrimp and grits ($16). Bloody marys and mimosas will cost $5.
The youth on staff helped to determine the menu, suggesting food from their diverse cultures. "One of the items on the menu that’s already really popular is the huevos rancheros," said Litsey. "Daniel, who’s in the program, prepares the black beans, and takes a lot of pride in it.”
Brunch will run from 10:30am-2pm on Saturdays, with two live music sets at 10:30am and noon. Reservations are available through Old Skool's website, and walk-ins are also welcome.
“We are really focused on increasing revenue," Litsey said. "Every dollar that is spent here goes to our youth and back into the community. By coming here to eat, people can really make a difference.”