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Henry's Soul Cafe opening up new job opportunities with food handling education program

Henry’s co-owner Bernard Brooks.
Henry’s co-owner Bernard Brooks.
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D.C.’s Henry’s Soul Café has been known for its sweet potato pie and other favorites for more than 50 years, but now, the company is branching into other areas.

Henry's now has a major catering business in Southeast D.C., and it has stepped up as trainer for various D.C. jobs programs involving the need for a food handling license.

“This is the same community that helped build our business up by supporting us, so what better way to give back than with something that we know how to do?” said Henry’s co-owner Bernard Brooks.

Brooks says Henry’s has trained hundreds of food service workers.

One is Malek Bussey, 21, who says somehow the program found him in an email and offered him an opportunity at the right time.

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“I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have any type of income at the time, so when they came to me I jumped at the opportunity to come get my food handling license,” Bussey said.

Brooks hired Bussey to work for Henry’s but he says other companies are interviewing their trainees, as well.

Henry’s is also about to take over food preparation at the homeless men’s shelter on the St Elizabeth's campus, housing more than 300 residents.

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The facility has a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. Brooks says after it passes a D.C. Health inspection, he will have his employees preparing meals there within the next month. Also, he plans to hire a number of the homeless residents and train them on the job in food service.

“Anybody can learn it you just have focus and decide you want to learn it,” said Brooks.

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He said he’s learned working with young people from less affluent communities, that while they are not likely to look for work, for whatever reason, if contacted, they will jump at the chance to get a job.

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