Club Café celebrates 3 years

  • Clinical Support Options celebrates the third anniversary of its Club Cafe based out of the John Olver Transit Center, from left, Jane LaVallee of CSO, and workers Bonny Nawotny and Tom Kane. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Tom Kane, an employee at the Clinical Support Options Club Cafe in the John Olver Transit Center, prepares food. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Bonny Nawotny sets up at the Clinical Support Options' Club Cafe, based out of the John Olver Transit Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

GREENFIELD — Tucked away into the John W. Olver Transit Center is a cafe — a cafe with a cause.

Celebrating its third anniversary, the Club Cafe, which is run by Clinical and Support Options (CSO), is slowly growing in its corner of the transit center’s waiting area.

Selling breakfast and lunch sandwiches for no more than $5.50 and Pierce Brothers coffee to go with it, the cafe is not only a way for those stopping by the transit center to grab a bite, but also a place for clients of CSO to gain work experience.

Tom Kane and Bonny Nawotny have both been running the cafe for a majority of the years it has been open. They are also members of CSO’s Green River House and Quabbin House, housing communities that helps link those who have had significant, documented mental illness with educational and employment opportunities.

“It just gives me a focus,” said Kane, who lives at the Greenfield-based Green River House.

“I used to be crazy busy,” he continued. “I had a breakdown. This was coming back to a place that was reasonable and without the same pressure. It’s been a great way coming back into the community.”

For Nawotny, who lives in the Athol-based Quabbin House, she had been working with CSO for a few years, but then had stopped.

“I was glad when they said I had the opportunity to come back,” Nawotny said.

From fan favorites like tuna melts and steak and cheese grinders to quick snacks like chips and trail mix, the Club Cafe has offered a variety of options for people coming and going.

Some employees and frequent riders have become familiar faces to Kane and Nawotny.

“It’s a nice place to work,” Kane said. “It’s pretty here. Good lighting. The folks coming in are really friendly. You feel a part of the community.”

Creating the Club Cafe though was a challenge, CSO employee and overseer of the shop Jane LaValle said. It was the first time they had opened up a business like this, so there was a learning curve. Eventually they figured out what food was popular, how often to rotate out specials — this month is the tuna melt — and what hours to be open.

“Like any new business, it was an adventure for everyone,” LaValle said. “We never ran a business before and we’ve learned a lot.”

They hope that over the years to come, certainly by the cafe’s 10th anniversary, it will become a destination not just for people passing by the transit center, but also for patrons from Main Street.

In the meantime, as the days and even years fly by, its been a chance for the two to gain work experience in the community at-large.

“It’s been good for me transitioning back to working,” Kane said. “Club Cafe has made it easy to come back.”