Lori Thomas likes her eggs “dirty.”

The aspiring chef makes her signature dish with cheese, mushrooms, onions, kale – or spinach – sautéed in bacon grease.

“They’re so good, and it’s my favorite breakfast dish to cook,” said Thomas, 39, of Westerville. “Now that I’m older, it’s kind of clear to me that I probably should own my own restaurant because I’m so good at it. Plus, I love it. “

Thomas is on track to realize her dreams by gaining experience at Café Overlook, the new cafeteria at the Franklin County courthouse, which recently opened on the 16th floor space formerly occupied by another cafeteria.

Teaching workforce skills: Cafeteria helps those who have struggled

Started by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Service! Relief for Hospitality Workers nonprofit, the restaurant doubles as a workforce development initiative. The business employs social services clients, provides a living wage and benefits, and seeks to place workers in a long-term career in the restaurant industry.

Lori Thomas, left, works at the newly opened Café Overlook in the Franklin County courthouse.  The cafeteria seeks to prepare workers for a long-term career in the restaurant industry.

Café Overlook is open 8 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. The breakfast menu includes locally roasted coffee, fresh baked goods and fruit. The lunch menu includes a full salad bar and made-to-order sandwiches.

The cafeteria employs 20 people and pays $ 15 per hour. Workers also receive paid training, including ServSafe Food Safety certification. The kitchen is managed by Matthew Heaggans, who owns Preston’s: A Burger Joint, and co-founded Service! with Sangeeta Lakhani and Letha Pugh.

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