McArthur’s Bakery's former Kirkwood location will reopen as a mission-driven cafe

McArthur’s Bakery’s former Kirkwood location at 210 N. Kirkwood Road, which shuttered in early 2019, is transforming into The Pioneer Bakery Cafe. Developed in collaboration with nonprofit organization Lafayette Industries, the new enterprise will focus on training and employing workers with intellectual disabilities. Owners Scott and Sheila Rinaberger are currently finalizing renovations to the space and expect to open for service in mid-September. 

While the new café will retain a few classic selections from the McArthur’s menu, such as the carrot and German chocolate cakes and smiley face cookies, the Rinabergers want the new project to have its own culinary identity. To that end, they’ve hired pastry chef Saul Juarez, formerly of the Four Seasons Hotel and Angad Arts Hotel, to serve as executive chef. Juarez has developed a new line of desserts and seasonally rotating pastries for the café. 

These new offerings will complement the cafe's expanded breakfast and lunch menus, with fast-casual options like quiche and sandwiches available during the week and a full-service brunch, featuring classics like French toast, eggs and bacon and mimosas, available on the weekend.

The Rinabergers bought McArthur’s Bakery, now in its 64th year of operation, six years ago. Though the Kirkwood space no longer fits McArthur’s needs, the building is a perfect fit for The Pioneer Bakery Café.

Scott Rinaberger hopes the program will both help individuals gain employment while also empowering them with a greater sense of self-confidence. 

“The question always is: After special school services stop and education stops, what’s next? There are no opportunities that are readily out there unless you create them,” Rinaberger explained. He added that adults with intellectual disabilities are the largest underemployed population in the U.S.

Lafayette Industries developed a special curriculum based on the Rinabergers’ goals. The trainees will spend part of their day learning life skills such as healthy eating, social interaction skills and critical thinking. The second half of the day will be focused on learning skills specific to work in the cafe such as icing a doughnut, making pastries, operating the cash register, greeting people and other front-of-house tasks. “The more things that [Lafayette Industries] can do to expose the trainees to all the different aspects of the industry, the better prepared they are,” Rinaberger says.

By the end of the program, trainees will be ServSafe-certified and knowledgeable in the different areas of the restaurant and sales industry. The cafe will then work with others in the industry to help place each individual. 

The team will begin their first training program in late October, with the intent that trainees will be out on the floor by the end of 2020.