Coffee cart opening up opportunities at Fashion Outlets

Contributed photo    Anthony Salvo (left) of Empower and John Doran of Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA check out the Empower Grab ‘n Go cart, which is selling coffee and snacks at the shopping center.

Shoppers at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA have been enjoying a new “perk” in recent weeks. The Empower Grab ‘n Go Cart, featuring coffee and a variety of beverages and snacks, has been open for business on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. near Entrance 7, which is close to the Saks OFF 5th interior entrance.

The cart is operated by Empower, a not-for-profit organization based in the Town of Niagara, and provides paid job training opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA is hosting the cart for the next year.

The Grab ‘n Go Cart was inspired by Anthony Salvo, who participates in Empower’s job training services. After completing Leadership Niagara in 2019, Anthony wanted to take the next step toward his dream of owning a coffee shop. Empower staff has been working with Anthony to establish a mobile coffee cart that will allow him, and others supported by Empower, to learn the ropes of food service.

John Doran, property manager for Fashion Outlets, heard about the project as a member of Empower’s advisory council. He asked to meet Anthony, and quickly decided to get involved. Doran worked with his company, Macerich, which owns and operates the shopping center, to secure a one-year, no-cost lease.

“Empower’s Grab ‘n Go is just the kind of amenity our shoppers look for, and we’re delighted to help this impactful organization and one of its star participants get this new concept off to a great start,” said Doran. “We value our relationships throughout the community and think Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA is a terrific place to launch a new retail idea, like this coffee and snack cart – especially one that offers so many benefits to everyone involved.”

Explained Salvo, “I had a dream to open a coffee cart because I knew it would help people with disabilities get community jobs. ... I feel really great about opening the Grab ‘n Go Cart. ... I promise you a good cup of coffee and a nice snack for a good price."

The cart originally was scheduled to open April 1, but the pandemic that caused business disruptions across the country this spring and summer delayed its debut. Beginning Oct. 1, the new cart will allow midday shoppers to enjoy a selection of coffee and other hot and cold beverages, breakfast items and snack foods. Credit cards and cash will be accepted.

“People with disabilities have goals and dreams just like everyone else,” said Jeff Paterson, Empower’s chief executive officer. “Anthony and his peers are ready to show the world what they can do. We invite the community to support this exciting effort.”

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