Many local businesses support their surrounding towns in different ways. Some restaurants source their food from nearby farmers and markets, while others donate to local charities. No Limits Café in Red Bank, however, serves both delicious lunches and employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.
Co-Founders and married couple Stephanie Cartier and Mark Cartier started No Limits Café in response to a growing issue; their 19-year-old daughter with Downs Syndrome didn’t have enough employment options after school had ended. (In fact, only 20% of people with disabilities are employed). But they didn’t come up with the concept on their own.
Bringing the Idea to Life
The Cartiers first heard about a place called Hugs Café, Inc. in Texas training and employing adults with special needs. So they spoke with Founder and President Ruth Thompson to learn more. One conversation on a curb in Dallas later, the duo decided to bring the idea back to their home state.
It quite literally took a village to open No Limits Café. The process required the help of local businesses, friends, and family each donating time, materials, and services to the cause. But now, this 501(c)(3) charitable organization is finally open.
The 50 seat restaurant is “rustic industrial,” giving off cool city vibes despite a warmer “at home” feeling. Christine Slattery, friend of the family, assisted with the design, reaching out to local woodworkers to create wooden tables; including a 12 foot communal table. The ceiling features barn wood from North Dakota and Holmdel, with plenty of positive quotes on the walls. For example, their daughter’s words, “Don’t Limit Me,” can be found on the wall.
The Staff and Menu at No Limits Café
At this point, No Limits Café employs 36 adults with intellectual disabilities. In addition, these workers train in every aspect of the restaurant, from the kitchen to the front of the house. They serve food on carts, and the cafe features plenty of custom modifications that allow everyone to work; for example, they have wheelchair accessible access, a color-coded kitchen, a low and high pass through, and more.
The menu focuses on lunch classics such as soups, sandwiches, popular bowls, and of course, desserts. One big hit with patrons, for instance, is the Steak Sandwich. This sandwich features caramelized onions, crumbled blue cheese, and lettuce on a fresh baguette. The P.J.C. sandwich is also a fast favorite. The name comes from Will Cusick’s brother (Cusick owns Cottage By the Sea Woodwork in Neptune City and made the tables for No Limits Café). This roasted turkey sandwich is packed with stuffing, cherry sauce, and lettuce, then served with a side of gravy. Besides that, their soups are so popular they now sell them by the quart!
If you would like to support No Limits Café, you can visit them at 418 NJ-35 in Red Bank. They are open for lunch during their “soft opening” on Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:30 am – 3:00 pm. To learn more, visit their website or give them a call.
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Top (Hero) Photo: © No Limits Café / Facebook
Other Photo Courtesy: Stephanie and Mark Cartier