I had a dream……really, I had a dream.
My name is Ruth Thompson, founder and president of Hugs Café Inc.
For much of my adult life, I would ask the question “Why am I here”. In 1998, I became the Executive Director of New Day In Home Support and Respite Care in Parker, Colorado. One of the objectives of New Day was to provide support to families and people with special needs. While at New Day, I helped start a day program for adults with special needs and fell in love with a population of people with whom I had had little previous experience.
Fast forward to 2004 upon moving to McKinney, Texas, with a background in management and a love for cooking, I applied for a manager’s position in the Cooking School at Market Street. When interviewed, I was asked about my passion. After sharing my story about my experiences in Colorado with adults with special needs, I was told to make my passion work at Market Street and the life skills cooking classes were born. Maria Caccavale, my “partner in crime” in the cooking school and I started with one class in the evenings twice a month and with 9-10 students. By the time that I left Market Street in 2013, each month we would have up to 9 different groups from various locations across North Texas attend our cooking classes, including transition programs from McKinney ISD, Wylie ISD and Plano ISD and as far away as Denton.
During my time with these wonderful individuals, I saw what a love of cooking many of them had as well as a tremendous desire to be employed and be contributing members of society. A volunteer, Kathy Nicholson, had told me of visiting a coffee shop, Hattie’s Place, in Akron, Ohio, that employed adults with special needs. Several days later, I had a dream. A dream of a fast casual restaurant that employs adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities; a restaurant that would give them a place to learn, work, and thrive as members of the community. I shared this dream with my supportive husband, Chris, and his response was “I guess we need to make it happen”.
A seed was planted.