It has been five years in the making but the Lily Pad Cafe in Ridgeland is just a few months away from opening its doors.
The cafe, which will open where M7 Coffeehouse used to be in the Old Town Railroad District, is slated to be the first restaurant of its kind in Mississippi—one that mostly employs and trains young adults with special needs.
The idea of the Lily Pad was created by Brent and Kristin Lape as well as Deanna and Kelly Elliot. Both couples have a child with Down’s syndrome, so they decided to get together in an endeavor to help fix “a flaw in the process.”
“That common problem being basically after high school, the opportunities are not there (for those with disabilities) and the ones that are there are very limited,” Brent Lape explained. “We got to the point where we thought, ‘We can do something and put something in place or we can kind of continue the process that is flawed.’”
The two couples looked at similar establishments such as Hugs Café in McKinney, Texas and realized that Mississippi needed a café completely dedicated to providing training and employment to those with intellectual and mental disabilities.
“There are different cafes and different coffee shops around the world and the nation that are employing and training people with disabilities, so we figured why not here?” Lape continued.
The Lily Pad is set to open this summer and will serve salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads. If you’re interested in donating to cover the first year’s worth of operating costs, click here.