Café Momentum sends formerly incarcerated teen to serve ahead of Super Bowl

Posted at 3:46 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 13:55:13-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nonprofit restaurant Café Momentum sent an 18-year-old to Los Angeles for events ahead of the Super Bowl to share his experience in juvenile detention with NFL players and young people exiting juvenile detention.

Café Momentum offers paid 12-month internships and support to young people exiting juvenile detention.

The organization hosted a pop-up dinner in L.A. during Super Bowl week to help build community support for opening a new restaurant location there as part of its expansion process. Nashvilleand Pittsburgh restaurants have been announced as new locations underdevelopment and slated to open in 2022.

"Café Momentum...shows that, you know, they're there for you and you have somebody that has your back. It really just makes you feel like you can conquer anything," explained 18-year-old Cameron Carver, who was formerly incarcerated.

Carver spent time at the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center and was introduced to Café Momentum through his probation officer.

"He said they're only gonna be there for three days, but I'd be able to make money for those three days. So I was all there for it," recalled Carver. "They showed us the ways and the works around the [food] industry and stuff like that. And I knew then like, I kind of gotten a love for it."

Since the Nashville location was not yet built, Café Momentum helped Carver earn a job at Geist Bar + Restaurant in Germantown.

Café Momentum is a nonprofit restaurant that offers paid 12-month internships and lifesaving support to young people exiting juvenile detention.

"I've been here for three years now," said Carver. "My favorite part about my job is the people that I work with."

Not only is Carver learning valuable culinary skills, but he is also building a support system.

"Café Momentum tells me...'You did this yourself. You just needed a little help.’ I really did. I just needed some guidance. I feel like everybody out there they could do that themselves. They just have just a little bit of guidance and someone's showing that they have some faith in them, you know? They're in their corner," said Carver.

As an ambassador for Café Momentum, Carver still visits the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center to share his story with incarcerated youth.

"Somebody that could possibly, you know, feel what you've been through, you know, possibly you've been through it before. You can really relate to them," said Carver. "Could possibly change someone's mindset and possibly save them a lifetime damage."

Café Momentum invited Carver and other organization ambassadors to Los Angeles to serve a pop-up dinner to guests and NFL players the week of the Super Bowl in partnership wit h Stand Together Foundation and Player Coalition.

"On Wednesday, we'll be doing the food truck and we'll be serving our famous fried chicken and biscuits and we'll be working with former and current NFL players, as well as our ambassador group for the Cafe Momentum. That'd be very, very exciting," explained Carver. "And then Friday night we'll be doing a pop-up dinner as well with a juvenile-involved youth as well. So that'll be very exciting."

Although Carver does not get to stay for the Super Bowl game, he said the ability to share his story is enough.

"Possibly be able to, like I said, change mindsets, excite them. You know, whenever I first did my pop-up dinner I was felt so proud and wanted to, you know, make other people happy when they look at the table and see beautiful food," he said. "I've seen myself change as well as others that have come in contact with youth and older, older than me, you know, just to be able to pass knowledge alone, you know, to really change the world."

Café Momentum Ambassador Cameron Carver finishes preparing a salmon dish at Geist Bar + Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has worked for three years in the kitchen.