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Monday, 11 May  2009  DAL Café

Visit a café with a difference.

MARIE KUCHENMEISTER, DIAL-A-LUNCH CAFE OWNER: It's a real business. People have real jobs. We just wanted to prove that people with disabilities, given those opportunities, can do it.

NATASHA JOHNSON: In a busy shopping strip in the regional Victorian city of Geelong, Dial-A-Lunch, or DAL Cafe as it's more commonly known, has built up a reputation for good food and great coffee.

While the cuisine is drawing customers through the door, the cafe isn't just interested in making a dollar. It's more concerned with providing jobs for people with disabilities. This mother of three, whose primary cooking experience had been the family kitchen, fought for government funding and opened the DAL Cafe. She started with two part-time supervisors and four people with disabilities. Her daughter was one of the early employees and is still working here.

MARIE KUCHENMEISTER: So, to see how she has come along with lots of support obviously and assistance and making the friends that she's made here, it's just to us, as a whole family really, just a dream come true.

NATASHA JOHNSON: 16 years after opening her little coffee shop, Marie Kuchenmeister 's dream has grown into two cafes and a catering service which turns over $1 million a year, which is ploughed back into the business to create more jobs.

And it's not just about work. The staff have developed close friendships and even formed a 10 pin bowling team.

What does it mean to you to have a job here?

BROOKE GREENHALGH: Very much, yes. Very important to me. Just, all the friends and everyone supports me here. Like, sometimes I do mistakes, but I can do it properly again.

NATASHA JOHNSON: So disabilities don't matter here?


NATASHA JOHNSON: The workers are all closely supervised and supported and take on tasks from cutting up the vegies to serving on tables, managing catering orders and even the accounts.

They earn a decent wage and the aim is, where possible, to move them on to employment in the wider community. Marie is now helping to set up similar workplaces around the state, determined to help those whose struggles she knows so well.

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English Bites - DAL Café
story notes

The people who work in the café have disabilities. If you have the ability to do something, you have the power or skill necessary to do it. If someone has a disability, they lack one or of the physical or mental abilities that most people have.The adjective is disabled.
Example: The workers at the café are disabled.

The Dial-A-Lunch café is in Geelong, near Melbourne in Victoria.

 built up
Here built up means established over time.
Example: He built up the business over many years.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb build up, follow the link.
more information: build up

The word cuisine is used to talk about styles of food.

Here, draw means attract attention or interest.

Concerned here means interested in.


Here fought is the past tense of the irregular verb fight.
more information: fight

Employees are people who are hired by employers.
more information: -ee suffix

 come along
made good progress
Example: She's come along well since she changed her attitude.
For more on the phrasal verb come along, follow the link.
more information: come along

Here made is the past participle of the irregular verb make.
more information: make

Grown is the past participle of the irregular verb grow.
more information: grow

 turns over
does an amount of business
Example: The business turns over $6 million a year.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb turn over, follow the link.
more information: turn over

The workers are all closely supervised, or watched over.

Here, supported means helped and encouraged.

 take on
to accept a task or a responsibility and try to do it as well as you can
Example: I’m going to take on the job of selling three cars every week.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb take on, follow the link.
more information: take on

 set up
For more about the phrasal verb set up, follow the link.
more information: set up

The word spelled w-h-o-s-e (whose) is the possessive form of who.
more information: whose & who's

Take a look at some café tasks.

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