Lunching in Paradise

The unique Café Today serves good food and a good cause

YOUTH IN CHARGE Samantha Johnson puts it on the table for Karen Bovee and her daughter Sarah, age 21/2, at Café Today, in Paradise.

YOUTH IN CHARGE Samantha Johnson puts it on the table for Karen Bovee and her daughter Sarah, age 21/2, at Café Today, in Paradise.

Where it’s at: Café Today is located at 7200 The Skyway, Paradise, and is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Thur., 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.

They don’t call it Paradise for nothing, you know.

While the town of Paradise boasts several restaurants that offer heavenly menu items, it has one little cafà you may not have heard about: Cafà Today, which is run by Youth for Change, a social services nonprofit that helps at-risk teens. Cafà Today’s food can not only redeem your spirit, but delight your palate as well.

The cafà lucked out several months ago by scoring a new manager, Kim Vincent, who previously worked for the former (and highly acclaimed) Cory’s in Chico. Under Kim’s guidance, the cafà serves up some delicious eats while giving teens a chance to learn the restaurant trade.

Tucked back off the Skyway to the right of the Beyond Fitness building, Cafà Today offers a cozy interior along with tables in a comfortable patio area not far from the cafà's quaint kitchen garden. On the day we lunched there, the walls were covered with the dazzling watercolor paintings of Paradise artist Marianna Love. The art shows rotate periodically.

The young people working in the cafà greeted us professionally and helped us with selecting menu choices. My friend had the soup of the day ((bowl $2.25, cup $1.50), beef-barley, which she described as having good broth—not too thick. She also tried the tuna salad sandwich ($5.25) on dark rye bread, with lettuce, tomato, onion and sprouts, which she said tasted fresh; also, it was nicely put together, unlike some sandwiches that are falling apart on the plate when they are served.

I had the Oriental Chicken Salad ($6.25), grilled ginger teriyaki chicken served on a fresh bed of greens along with mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, green onion, crunchy noodles and sesame ginger dressing, all very satisfying. The wonderful quality about Cafà Today is its commitment to using fresh, organic and locally grown foods. A healthful meal awaits you there.

Some of the other salads available include Cobb, chicken, chicken Caesar, pasta and fresh fruit ($5.95-$6.25). And there’s a whole array of delicious sandwiches ($5-$5.50), along with fresh-baked goods for dessert. And there are “littles meals” available for the wee ones among us: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chips or a turkey and cheddar with chips (both $3.50). You can also order a half-sandwich with your choice of a side of salad or cup of soup (4.95).

As we ate our lunch, we chatted with one of the cafà workers, Samantha Johnson, 17, who told us Cafà Today was her first job. “I’ve learned how to be personable to customers and how to talk to strangers easier,” she shared. “I’ve also learned a lot about food prep.” She explained how she has enjoyed learning the cafà business and earning her own money, and she likes talking with some of the regular customers who come in to play cards. Her favorite item at the Cafà is the blackberry oatmeal bars, which are homemade like all of the other baked items in the cafà. My friend and I agreed we’ll have to go back to try those.

Any teen or other person can apply for work at the cafà, and the people employed there help maintain the kitchen garden, so they learn gardening skills, too, along with important social skills. It’s a good place to obtain some work experience, and the profits help support Youth for Change, which facilitates foster and group homes for teens, along with other programs.

Unfortunately, the location of Cafà Today is not that visible, since it is back off the Skyway a bit, and some people erroneously think the cafà's proximity to the health club means it’s a part of that facility. It’s not. It’s an independent cafà that is just waiting to serve you a scrumptious meal.

Cafà Today provided us with a peaceful, comfortable place for a lazy lunch. It was well worth a trip up the hill to Paradise.