DEMING – Charlie Cats’ Diner, at 1601 E. Pine Street, received a warm welcome to the community as Deming’s lone nonprofit eatery. Under the flag of Colores United – a 501©3 registered organization – the café drew quite a reception during a June 12 grand opening.
“We had a car show, Deming High cheerleaders, and of course, our delicious menu items,” said Crystal Milo, secretary for the organization. “The concept for this project is to provide a hands-on learning experience for youth to find meaningful employment in the food industry and to continue our service to the community.”
So, how does a nonprofit operate a diner? “Grants, Milo told the Headlight. “At Colores United, we continue to provide food distribution efforts throughout the community. We provide clothing, personal hygiene supplies, and the work with asylum seekers continues.”
The ultimate desire was to provide the community with delicious and nutritious food in a family-friendly atmosphere while also providing hospitality training and resources to the communities’ youth, according to a Colores United press release. Charlie Cat’s Diner is focused on culture and diversity offering learning and community feeding programs within a fully functional restaurant. “It’s providing creative potential and hospitality skills training in a safe and loving environment,” said Ariana Saludares, co-founder of Colores United.
The menu for the diner is concise and tasty, according to Milo. From sliders, to full size hamburgers, fresh cut fries, and piping hot pizza made from scratch, with fresh dough, the pricing is reasonable, and the profits are regenerate to cover food costs, utilities, and city services. “Our tip jar is what goes back into our Colores United community projects,” Milo told the Headlight.
Chef Frances McCollough brings a global background to the Charlie Cats kitchen. She once cooked for the Cirque de Soleil performance group and has gained universal recognition for her recipes. “The students are learning from a gifted chef,” Milo said.
High school students are on the payroll that is supplemented through New Mexico Workforce Solutions in Deming. At any one time, the diner is staffed with cooks and at least six servers on the floor.
The décor is a 1950s diner, complete with Wildcat memorabilia and a vintage jukebox. “We’re trying to get that up and running<' Milo said. In the meantime, music from that era is piped through the diner.
Colores United says the benefits of Charlie Cats Diner are numerous. The student staff is introduced to culinary arts and safety in food handling, confidence and pride in new abilities and appreciation of different cultures through knowledge of alternative food, preparation, and techniques.
Comfort food is a trending topic these days, and the Charlie Cats Diner takes that to heart.
“Learning about food – where it comes from – how to prepare it, and nutritional value all have an important role in our wellbeing. Learning how to prepare and incorporate a healthy diet not only benefits you but also your family as you introduce them to new and healthier options. It also teaches other important life skills such as communication, time management, safe food practices, teamwork, how to accept constructive criticism and confidence,” Saludares wrote in a recent statement to the Headlight.
The new eatery plans on bringing special events to the community and will also provide services to organizations in Deming and Luna County.
Charlie Cats Board of the Directors includes Dr. Katie Randall, Gonzales and Saludares.
Dinner hours are 6 am to 3 pm, seven days a week. Call 575-592-8427 or visit www.charliecats.org.
Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-494-5059 or [email protected]