YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A new food option in Youngstown has only been open for a few weeks and it already has dozens of repeat customers.
Gallagher’s Lunch Bucket serves up food from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. five days a week at Oakhill Renaissance Place, which has not had a working cafeteria in almost two decades when it was the old South Side Hospital. The grill gets fired up at 10:30 a.m.
The eatery is a collaboration with Golden String and the Purple Cat. Thirty-two adults with disabilities work at the cafeteria, whipping up anything from hamburgers to pizza and the special of the day.
“Everything I have tasted, excellent. It has been wonderful. The Swiss and tuna, I had to say was excellent. The pizza is really good. I am a big bagel guy. They get fresh bagels here,” customer Robby Tamburro said.
On Monday, the aforementioned tuna melt was the special of the day. Dwight knows just how long to toast the bread.
“Dwight is a very good cook. He cooked with us at the Pearl Street location, then came here,” job coach Sally Wachuck said.
If customers want pizza, Rocco Bernard is the guy.
“Put pepperoni on it, cheese, everything,” Bernard said.
Golden String Inc. Director of Operations Jimmy Sutman said the employees are excited to have employment and to have specific job duties.
That is one of the main reasons why the cafeteria was created. On top of earning a paycheck, employees get to work on their social skills. Some are forming relationships with customers.
“You can make a lot of new friends. There is nothing wrong with coming out here, giving a hug, giving a handshake. That is what the Purple Cat stands for,” Tamburro said.
Employees work with job coaches who make sure everything is done according to code. For Wachuck, this is not a job. It is family.
“I love this job. It is fun. There is different people that come through and they have all gotten to know our gang here and they love to talk to them,” Wachuck said. “They are all wanting to tell you about their days and what happened to them over the weekend.”
For Mahoning County employees, having a working cafeteria in the building fits right into their work day.
“We don’t have to go downtown. We don’t need to go up Market Street. It is convenient,” customer Sheree Brown said.
Customers said the food is one reason they dine in, but even if they don’t order food, they stop by to say hi to the employees.
The cafeteria is named after Joe Gallagher, who was a former Golden String client. He always forgot his lunch bucket and made it a point to call it a lunch bucket.
Gallagher died nearly three years ago.
On Aug. 25, Gallagher’s is having its grand opening celebration and will have plenty of samples for guests to snack on.