By Paula Ebben

SANDWICH (CBS) — A Cape Cod school has started running a business so their students who have intellectual challenges can get job training for the future and it’s blossomed into a bustling cafe and restaurant.

Cafe Riverview is a favorite spot on Route 6A in Sandwich, but it’s also a working classroom for students at nearby Riverview School.

Cafe Riverview in Sandwich. (WBZ-TV)

Cafe Riverview in Sandwich. (WBZ-TV)

Students like Andrew McKnight hope to work in the restaurant business after he graduates.

“I just love the experience,” he told WBZ, “And I just love working with food.”

About five years ago, Harvard Business School did a study for Riverview and they look into the best future job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. They came back and said food service topped the list, and that’s when the business began.

“Instead of just doing work in the classroom and pretending to be in the real world, we thought the authentic experience would be to work in a place like a cafe,” says Maureen Brenner, head of the Riverview School.

And expectations are high.

“This has to be able to compete with any other restaurant in town and people come back for the food, but also for the ambiance that’s created here,” Brenner says.

From prep work in the kitchen to cleaning dishes and serving at the counter, Riverview students do it all. They’ve even painted the stunning artwork that adorns the walls.

Riverview School students not only work at the cafe, but they have their artwork on display there too. (WBZ-TV)

Riverview School students not only work at the cafe, but they have their artwork on display there too. (WBZ-TV)

The cafe draws a lot of repeat customers from the area.

“The coffee’s very good and the students are very sweet and helpful,” says Sandwich resident Mary Ahearn.

Cafe Riverview Manager Kathy Budreski says, “The community is happy to see them on a daily basis, and it’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

Not only is the food delicious, but it’s breaking even. Not easy in the restaurant business, and many graduates have landed a job after their training there.

If you have an Eye on Education story idea, email us at eyeoneducation@cbs.com or tweet me @paulaebbenwbz.

Paula Ebben

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