New restaurant in Fowlerville to exclusively hire and train people with disabilities

Local News

Soon there will be a restaurant in Mid-Michigan that will be run by adults with disabilities.

The Torch 180 is set to open in early 2020. The cooks, baristas and servers will be people who usually have a difficult time finding a job.

“It could be absolutely any disability. From Autism to Aspergers, to Down Syndrome, if you have a physical disability a learning disability. Any documented disability, we are willing to work with you.” said co-founder Sarah Ruddle.

And it’s not just a restaurant, it’s a training ground. The Torch 180 has partnered with the Michigan Career Techincal Institute so after the students complete 300 hours of hands-on training, they will walk away with a certificate and college credit.

“So when students are trained here they can go out anywhere and get a great job in really be like the shining star in their new community.”

Ruddle and her partner Rhonda Callahan started training people at local High Schools in 2016. Out of their 35 students, 80% are currently employed.

“We’ve proven that it can work we’re just ready to take it to the next level and get these adults hands-on training on how to run every aspect of a restaurant.”

According to the Department of Labor, only 19% of people with disabilities are employed, compared to 65.9% of people without. Ruddle says The Torch 180 will not only teach her students how to join the workforce but educate the community that we’re more alike than we are different.

“Yes they have a disability but they also have all these amazing abilities and when we come together we really can change the world for people.”

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