Ex-offender vocational program opens Kalamazoo cafe


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Several people trickled into a new coffee shop that’s serving up more than what customers see on the menu.

The Walnut & Park Café officially opened Monday morning in Kalamazoo on Walnut Street near Park Street.

Walnut & Park Café in Kalamazoo. (Feb. 24, 2017)
Walnut & Park Café in Kalamazoo. (Feb. 24, 2017)

The café is almost completely staffed by ex-offenders who are members or graduates of the culinary arts program at Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program (KPEP). The business is the latest addition launched by the vocational program.

The goal of the café is to help the staff build their resumes so they can have marketable recent job experience.

William DeBoer, the president of KPEP, said that they want to reduce the amount of re-offenders in West Michigan. He says the culinary arts program and Walnut & Park Café have been years in the making.

The first customers arrived right as the café opened around 6:30 a.m. Monday. For menu details and more, click here.