No need to holla! Galit (pronounced “Ga – leet”) Schwartz knows she has something special with her challah. Schwartz is the founder and owner of Power Café, a new café and bakery in Watertown. She takes custom orders for challah — regular, whole wheat or egg free. Jelly donuts, muffins, and more are available too.
“I started making challah when I got married eleven years ago,” she says. Whenever she made it, her family loved it and said that it was better than store-bought. Schwartz says she is not a fancy chef. “Simple, straight-forward, healthy food” is what she makes. “Mommy’s cooking” is what she calls it.
But Power Café is clearly about a lot more than the challah. Family is noticeably important to Schwartz. Her husband Daniel greeted me and other guests as we walked in. Then he went back to sitting with their children and enjoying some family time. There were a few people visiting solo, but also families with young children. Schwartz also has some new promotions in the works: Mother’s Monday and Father’s Friday, where parents get free coffee. Schwartz encourages local parents’ groups and others to come in and use their location as a meeting space.
The focus on community is also a big part of her mission, which is about far more than food. It’s about empowerment. Power Café was created, in part, to employ people with physical and/or developmental disabilities and help make them part of the mainstream community.
Schwartz’s involvement in the disability community started four years ago, when she began volunteering with Learning Program Boston, which helps children with Down syndrome. “Kids were encouraged in school to develop to their full potential,” she says. “Then when they graduated, there was nothing for them.”
Soon after having this realization, she learned about businesses working with the disability community and wondered why there were none like that in the Boston area. She thought about opening a coffee shop, so that instead of working in isolation, there would be interaction with the community. They would be visible and the community would get to know them.
“This is a next step in the Civil Rights Movement. There is still so much work to be done,” she says. Schwartz is excited to be part of this movement and doing all that she can to bring about more inclusion. She partners with different organizations and businesses that have similar goals.
The art found on the walls at Power Café is from Gateway Arts in Brookline. Gateway gives artists with disabilities professional support and helps them find buyers for their work. The coffee brewed at Power Café is from Furnace Hills Coffee Company, a small batch roasting company in Westminster, Maryland, providing jobs for those with developmental disabilities.
Finding her two current employees, Rachel Gatzunis and Stephen Mallett, came about through Schwartz’s collaboration with Triangle in Malden. Their Career Pathways Program provides training and opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. Graduates successfully complete the Culinary Arts Fundamentals Program at Bunker Hill Community College, so they are ready to work in the food industry, and just need a chance.
Power Café is all about giving chances and providing opportunities. Still relatively new — they opened on November 19, 2015 — Schwartz has many ideas for the future. She’d like to expand their hours and is looking for musicians to play during Sunday brunch. An espresso machine is on her wish list, and she’d like everyone to know that they have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, too.
As I looked around while sitting in the café, new patrons were introducing themselves to Schwartz and her husband — explaining how they learned about them. It felt warm and homey. A cozy neighborhood spot where, after a while, people may know your name.
Power Café - 45 Lexington St., Watertown, 617-923-7697, thepowercafe.com