One of the city's most iconic buildings is losing a tenant but not losing its validity.
Attorney Peter Schaffer, who in 1994 led a group of fellow attorneys in opening The Grateful Bean in the historic Kaiser's Ice Cream building, 1039 N Walker Ave., said Thursday the restaurant will close July 31.
"It's nothing dramatic," Schaffer said, "Expenses are too high in relation to income."
The Grateful Bean sprouted from a nonprofit project Schaffer and his collaborators formed in 1992 to allow the marginally employed a chance to acquire skills to prepare them for the work force. The company sold beans and bean-related food items like soup.
"We had people right out of prison, people still in prison, homeless people, we even had a 'defrocked' bank president work here," Schaffer said.
"The program was six months long and employees rotated through each process so they could learn as much as possible. We paid $6 an hour and held back $1.25 an hour, which we saved on their behalf and turned over to them when they graduated from the program," he said. "When you hand a person who's never really had a job a lump sum of $900, it's just incredible to see the reaction."
The native New Yorker said when the project shifted from the beans to the cafe, people who came through the program wanted to stay in a particular position, creating an unforeseen quandary.
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