Not every workplace would be so understanding about a drowsy employee, but the staff at Cafe 54 gets the effects of the strong medications most (if not all) of the trainees take.

No surprise that there's a waiting list to work at Cafe 54. And so many more who don't even know about it, but could benefit.

Shawn Caplan spent two years on the streets of Tucson, sleeping most nights in a tunnel under the train tracks. He woke up every couple of hours. He had nobody -- his parents were gone and even his big brother turned him away. He hung around with the wrong crowd, got involved with gangs. 
Finally, Caplan got sick of it and pulled away. He got help at shelters, got a diagnosis for his extreme anxiety and other symptoms (bipolar disorder), and three years ago, he finally got his own place. But he wasn't ready to get a job. He'd done restaurant work before, but he couldn't handle the stress. 
"I just gave up a lot," Caplan says. Now he's worked at Cafe 54 for six months. He's done dishwashing and prep work, but his favorite is the grill. He's learned how to grip a knife the right way and cut vegetables. 
"More importantly," he says, "I've learned about stress."
Caplan's pretty proud of himself. He'd like to be an analyst for the CIA someday. Or maybe go into computers.
"I thought my mom dying was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he says. "But it wasn't. It was taking care of myself."
Jamie Peachey
Shawn Caplan spent two years on the streets of Tucson, sleeping most nights in a tunnel under the train tracks. He woke up every couple of hours. He had nobody -- his parents were gone and even his big brother turned him away. He hung around with the wrong crowd, got involved with gangs.

Finally, Caplan got sick of it and pulled away. He got help at shelters, got a diagnosis for his extreme anxiety and other symptoms (bipolar disorder), and three years ago, he finally got his own place. But he wasn't ready to get a job. He'd done restaurant work before, but he couldn't handle the stress

. "I just gave up a lot," Caplan says. Now he's worked at Cafe 54 for six months. He's done dishwashing and prep work, but his favorite is the grill. He's learned how to grip a knife the right way and cut vegetables. "More importantly," he says, "I've learned about stress."

Caplan's pretty proud of himself. He'd like to be an analyst for the CIA someday. Or maybe go into computers.

"I thought my mom dying was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he says. "But it wasn't. It was taking care of myself."
Ingredients at Cafe 54 are locally sourced when possible. Everything from rolls to quiche to cake is baked on site.
Jamie Peachey
Ingredients at Cafe 54 are locally sourced when possible. Everything from rolls to quiche to cake is baked on site.
Kimberly Clawson is a job-development specialist at Cafe 54. She's looking for her own job, too. She has a criminal background (she doesn't elaborate beyond that) and she's been working to get her driver's license back and get CPR and first-aid certified. 
"I'm making myself more marketable," she says. 
Clawson came to Cafe 54 in March 2010 and started baking. She hadn't worked in three years. "My stamina was so bad," she recalls.
She worked only two days a week at first; her anxiety was bad. 
But she got more comfortable and eventually she did food service, made salads, worked the front of the house, and even redid the restaurant's inventory list. 
She loves coming to work. "I've only dropped one plate," Clawson says, laughing.
Jamie Peachey
Kimberly Clawson is a job-development specialist at Cafe 54. She's looking for her own job, too. She has a criminal background (she doesn't elaborate beyond that) and she's been working to get her driver's license back and get CPR and first-aid certified.

"I'm making myself more marketable," she says. Clawson came to Cafe 54 in March 2010 and started baking. She hadn't worked in three years. "My stamina was so bad," she recalls.

She worked only two days a week at first; her anxiety was bad. But she got more comfortable and eventually she did food service, made salads, worked the front of the house, and even redid the restaurant's inventory list.

She loves coming to work. "I've only dropped one plate," Clawson says, laughing.

Steve Kraus has worked at Cafe 54 for four months. He runs the cash register and buses tables. His dad heard about the restaurant and told Kraus he should try to get a job there. Kraus had been trying to find a job for years. He really wanted to get a job painting cars. He and his dad restored a 1974 Dodge Dart that they take to car shows. 
Kraus got a grant to buy art supplies, and a couple of his pieces are hanging on the wall at Cafe 54; he takes one down to offer a closer look at his technique, which uses paper towel, canvas, rubbing alcohol, and paint to create an abstract design. He just sold a piece. "It felt good," he says, but he would rather draw cartoons. 
He lives with his girlfriend, who is on disability. She used to clean houses, but that ended. "She just can't do it no more," Kraus says. The other day, he says, she got really mad at a news story that said mentally ill people shouldn't be able to have guns. Kraus shrugs. "They took mine away so I won’t harm myself," he says. 
He likes working at Cafe 54 because "it's real peaceful. It's not like you have someone yelling at you in the back."
And the food’s good, too. "Whenever I have extra money, I get the gyro," he says.
Jamie Peachey
Steve Kraus has worked at Cafe 54 for four months. He runs the cash register and buses tables. His dad heard about the restaurant and told Kraus he should try to get a job there. Kraus had been trying to find a job for years. He really wanted to get a job painting cars. He and his dad restored a 1974 Dodge Dart that they take to car shows.

Kraus got a grant to buy art supplies, and a couple of his pieces are hanging on the wall at Cafe 54; he takes one down to offer a closer look at his technique, which uses paper towel, canvas, rubbing alcohol, and paint to create an abstract design. He just sold a piece. "It felt good," he says, but he would rather draw cartoons.

He lives with his girlfriend, who is on disability. She used to clean houses, but that ended. "She just can't do it no more," Kraus says. The other day, he says, she got really mad at a news story that said mentally ill people shouldn't be able to have guns. Kraus shrugs. "They took mine away so I won’t harm myself," he says.

He likes working at Cafe 54 because "it's real peaceful. It's not like you have someone yelling at you in the back."

And the food’s good, too. "Whenever I have extra money, I get the gyro," he says.

Details

Shadow Dwellers: A Series

What's the one image you took away from the Tucson shootings? We thought so. That mugshot of Jared Loughner is haunting. And for the world, it has become the face of mental illness in Arizona. Here, we know that's not true. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the story of what it's like to be mentally ill in this place cannot be told in a single photograph.

Tens of thousands of seriously mentally ill people live in Arizona. Some of them look just like you.

Other stories in the series:

Phoenix's Most At-Risk Homeless Find Their Way, Thanks to a Team of "Navigators", by Paul Rubin

Meet Raven, a Homeless Man with More Community Than Many of Us Have, by Paul Rubin

Why Did the Arizona Department of Corrections Put a Mentally Ill Man in Cell with a Convicted Killer?, by Paul Rubin

Mental Illness Hasn't Stopped Chris Shelton from Becoming a World-Class Boxing Historian, by Paul Rubin

Jan Brewer's Response to Jared Loughner: Slash More Than 35 Million in Services from an Already Beleaguered Mental Health System, by Paul Rubin and Amy Silverman

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18 comments
dsgasgahasdh
dsgasgahasdh

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dsgasgahasdh
dsgasgahasdh

Hello, everybody, the good shoping place, the new season approaching, click in. Let's Facelift bar! ( http://fashion-long-4biz.com )Air Jordan (1-24) shoes $33 UGG BOOT $50 Nike shox (R4, NZ, OZ, TL1, TL2, TL3) $33 Handbags ( Coach Lv fendi D&G) $36 T-shirts (polo, ed hardy, lacoste) $16 Jean (True Religion, ed hardy, coogi)$30 Sunglasses ( Oakey, coach, Gucci, Armaini)$16 New era cap $16 ATO shoes $42 Gucci shoes $42 ,prada shoes $40 NBA jerseys $33 ,NHL jerseys $29 YSL shoes $85 Bikini (Ed hardy, polo) $18 Accept paypal payment, accept Credit card payments, electronic check payments. FREE SHIPPING ( http://fashion-long-4biz.com )

MIKE YEVTUCK
MIKE YEVTUCK

How come they dont have my face on there? im the poster boy for mental illness.

Gretchen Good
Gretchen Good

Mike, do you have an email? I;d like to talk to you and I'm coming out to Tucson to takea look at Cafe 54.

Shell01
Shell01

Shawn, I want to tell you after reading about you my heart was heavy. My Brother had a difficult time finding his way, he didn't make it to 30. I so want to hug you and tell you that you have a place here. I spent almost 40 years finding my way and I'm still finding it. Please know that you can do what your heart feels most fond of doing - you can be who you are. You can be who you want to be. I want you to feel loved by people like me from a distance, and are cheering you on, and holding your hand and enjoying your triumphs! Michelle

JD B
JD B

I am dying to find out exactly how this dumb story makes Jared Loughner less of the president of the lunatic fringe society. He is a whack job. With or without this silly restaurant.

MIKE YEVTUCK
MIKE YEVTUCK

There is plenty more wackadoo wack jobs just like Jared Laughner walking around 4th ave near the hippie food co-op in Tucson and downtown Tucson near the hotel congress. they are mostly goth looking and homeless. they been around here since the early 1970s. then they get old and die off and more younger ones take over. its a never ending cycle and nobody dors nothing to help them. they are the invisible mentally ill homeless and nobody cares to help them. its been like this in Tucson for over 40 years its nothing new if you ever lived here.

Shell01
Shell01

You sir, are an asshole

TKO
TKO

"Silly restaurant"? A place that employees the unemployable, saves lives, creates jobs, offers a service, and pays taxes. Not silly. You are!

Val Revering
Val Revering

What a wonderful article. I have friends that work in the mental health field and they're concerned about the cuts to AHCCS because many of their patients that used to spend $4/week on their meds are now spending $100/week and they simply can't afford them. It's nice to see an organization being proactive instead of reactive.

Shooter McGaven
Shooter McGaven

Amy what a beautiful article, thank you so much. I only wish that the whole community would support this place, and maybe skip Applebees, and other chains that do NOT need our money. What a cool concept, and great way to help people. This truly teaches people to fish, as opposed to giving them a fish. All the best to the owners and supporters of this business. You guys are rock stars and doing amazing stuff.

Marcy
Marcy

So people at Applebees should lose their jobs so people at Cafe 54 can have a job?

How noble.

While I have nothing against Cafe 54 and wish them well with their business, I'm not going to eat there simply because they discriminate against non-mentally ill people while Applebees doesn't discriminate against people who aren't mentally ill.

I'd eat there because I liked the food, atmosphere and prices, not because the person who cooks my food is one step away from the loony bin.

FormerDemocrat
FormerDemocrat

Loughner is a strong signal that liberalism is sick and dying. I would like to see all liberals receive a free head examination in an effort to prevent any more mass killings. I would recommend a quarantine of liberals, perhaps at our facilities in Cuba, but I realize the cost outweighs any benefit of saving them.

Mustafa
Mustafa

Hi, I too hate liberals. Is it now legal to beat them within an inch of their lives? I just don't understand...

gusto
gusto

Why do I get the feeling that you didn't even read this article?

Bernankeye
Bernankeye

No, of course not. I would never read anything with liberal (aka mental illnes) or loughner in the title. That would be foolish. Don't be a dolt.

 
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