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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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New cafe offers meals — and hope for homeless

— A second Inside the Box Cafe has opened, bringing jobs to formerly homeless citizens and raising funds for those who are homeless and hungry.

The new location, 1715 N. Westshore Blvd., is inside Westshore Center, an office complex that recently underwent a $1 million renovation project. The cafe serves businesses in the complex as well as the public.

The cafe and catering service is operated by the nonprofit Metropolitan Ministries, which opened its first Inside the Box in 2010 in downtown Tampa.

“This is investing in our clients,” said President and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries Tim Marks at the July 18 grand opening ceremony. “Now formerly homeless individuals have a job and career. It is a strong return on an investment.”

The cafe uses graduates of the ministries’ Uplift U self-sufficiency program to manage the cafe and to work with the catering program. Others in the ministries’ culinary arts program also assist as they are learning.

The facility is bright, with a counter for ordering and tables for dining. The menu includes sandwiches, salads, desserts, homemade potato chips and more. Box lunches are around $7.

“This looks like a high-end franchise store,” said Chef Cliff Barsi of Metropolitan Ministries. “We want to keep opening more.”

Kelley Parris, executive director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, said the cafe shows the good partnership between the board and Metropolitan Ministries, as the board provided seed money for the first cafe.

“Next,” she said, “a franchise.”

For information about Inside the Box Cafe, see www.itbcafe.org.

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