The owners of JC’s Café said it was easy to pick a name for their business. After all, the café is located in a church — the Fusion Faith Center in the Venetian Theatre in downtown Albany.
The JC stands for Jesus Christ, though everyone is welcome, including people of other faiths.
“It’s just what we believe in. It changed our lives,” said owner Jon Phelps.
He and his co-owners hope the café can change lives, too, and give residents second chances.
Phelps runs CHANCE, a drug and alcohol recovery organization, and he and co-owner Pete Martin also operate God Gear, a nonprofit that has nine transitional houses in Albany.
They want JC’s Café to provide opportunities to former substance abusers to show that they can be productive and responsible workers.
“Everybody involved in this had impacted the community in a negative way earlier in life,” Martin said. “We want to show that sometimes people need a second opportunity to be successful and someone to believe in them to get them on their feet. That shows others that are in the same position that anything is possible. You can improve your life.”
Café manager Holly King was once a God Gear resident. Now, besides running things at the café, she managers the God Gear women’s houses.
“Two years ago, they opened their doors to me and gave me a chance,” King said.
The café could be critical in helping recovering addicts to create a stable lifestyle, she added.
“It’s hard for people when they don’t have a work history or a lapse in job history,” King said.
The menu at JC’s Café includes coffee drinks, pastries, sandwiches, ice cream, specialty cakes and more. Breakfast burritos, salads and personal pizzas have been the top sellers so far.
Local residents Daniel Mullins and Ryan Swanson also own JC’s Café.
The site of JC’s Café has been a coffee shop on and off for years, but it had been vacant about 18 months, Martin said.
All of the owners of JC’s Café are associated with the Fusion Faith Center, and Martin thought that the church needed to utilize the coffee shop space. “I had been going to services there… and in the past I had restaurants. I said, ‘Why aren’t we doing anything?’” Martin said.
JC’s Café, 241 First Ave. SW, is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
For more information, call 541-926-1956.