Sugar, cream, caffeine and lots of love.
That’s what The Cracked Pot Coffee Shop of Mechanicsburg is serving up these days.
The shop first opened its doors in May 2017. Since then, this faith-based, non-profit/specialty coffee shop has quickly become a favorite on the west shore.
Besides a great menu, what sets The Cracked Pot apart from the rest is its unique program that employs, trains, and mentors youth who are aging, or who have aged, out of the foster care system in Central PA.
Recently, I was able to chat with Owner and Founder, Emily Schmidt, and find out the inspiring story behind how The Cracked Pot found its home in Upper Allen Township.
Coffee Shop Dreams
“When I was a teenager, I started collecting information and planning my dream of having a coffee shop someday,” said Schmidt. “It was always something I wanted to do. I could have never imagined it would end up being in my hometown across the street from the grocery store I use to shop at with my mom as a little girl!”
Schmidt, a Mechanicsburg native, worked in the food industry and nursing homes before meeting her husband and starting a family. After several years as a stay-at-home mom, she began revisiting her childhood dream of opening a shop. Around the same time, Schmidt and her husband began seriously looking into adoption.
“Both things had been on the back burner for a while,” she said. “Ironically, we started seriously talking about them again at the same time years later.”
During the adoption process, Schmidt said she realized how many children would never find a permanent home.
“It became real to me that this is a group of people that are slipping through the cracks,” she said. “They don’t have people walking with them through those important steps of becoming an adult once they age out of the system. It hit me that the coffee shop could be that! We could hire them and work alongside them to help them reach goals and assist them with setting the foundation for their futures.”
And that is exactly what Schmidt and her team have set out to do.
Today, The Cracked Pot sponsors a 9-12 month program in which transitioning foster children can work at the coffee shop. During this time, they also meet regularly with management, caseworkers, and mentors to ensure they are reaching their personal and professional goals.
“There have been many challenges and successes, but overall, great relationships have been formed,” said Schmidt. “Our employees are successfully reaching their goals. They seem to really like their time at the shop and serving this community.”
Schmidt hopes The Cracked Pot can be a peaceful, friendly, and fresh space that people can come to relax, refill or reconnect.
“We want to be a meeting and workplace for the community. That said, we also want to celebrate and support our community as well.”
In addition to delicious coffee, all of which is sourced locally from Lancaster’s Passenger Coffee Roasters, The Cracked Pot is home to several support groups that meet on a weekly or monthly basis. This includes a breast cancer caretaker support group and Memory Cafe, a global dementia caretaker support group. They also host an open mic night on the first Friday of each month and space is available to rent for special events.
“It is so neat to see how The Cracked Pot is impacting others’ lives and relationships.”
Guests can also enjoy a selection of fresh, homemade pastries, quiche, salads, paninis, avocado toast and other goodies for brunch and lunch.
The Cracked Pot is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
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