LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Tristyn Williams didn’t come up easy. By age 15, she was both pregnant and in juvenile detention.
She came out of the system to help her mother battle cancer, and her and her child’s future appeared questionable. Then, Tristyn found Cafe Momentum.
Cafe Momentum’s story began in Dallas, where Chef Chad Houser decided to teach eight young men in juvenile detention how to make ice cream. In watching the teens learn to work with food, Houser became inspired – he wanted to open a restaurant and let kids just like them run it.
Years later the program boasts three restaurants; the flagship in Dallas, one in Nashville, and the third in Pittsburgh — and soon, for a brief time, a pop-up here in Las Vegas. Tristyn is one of the program’s many success stories.
“Former Cafe Momentum interns who are now Momentum ambassadors such as myself, so we are all formally incarcerated youth.”
Through the program, she got her high school diploma and discovered her passion for pastry. Tristyn now plans to pursue formal culinary education, but she tells FOX5 it’s only because someone gave her a chance.
“We all have a story; we all have a face and are humans as well and that we are deserving of grace and the support of a community that gives us the opportunity to reach our full potential and become the members of our society and that we are putting forth just as much effort and that it’s seen,” she says.
“They will do everything that they can make their youth feel heard and supported. They go out of their way to find every opportunity possible to better these youth and to also teach them accountability.”
During Super Bowl Week, the skills they’ve learned will be on full display during that two-day pop-up right in the heart of the action.
“This year Cafe Momentum is in Vegas with the Players Coalition and Stand Together Foundation. We are posting a pop-up lunch activation for media teams that will be at Radio Row this year.
It’s not the first time the cafe has teamed up with the NFL.
“This is actually Cafe Momentum’s fourth time going to the Super Bowl. I’ve been on the last two, and this will be my third one here in Vegas. I can tell you we are once again super excited to once again bring our message and mission to such a big event.”
Tristyn tells us, events like these are critical to the cafe’s mission.
“I believe events like this are super important because of the outreach that such an important event can bring to national conversation such as youth justice reform, ” she says. “Every year we have experienced great numbers as far as outreach and people that are seeking education as afar as how they can support Cafe Momentum themselves or support changing the conversation around youth justice and what it looks like.”
And she believes, maybe in the process, they can change some minds and open some hearts.
“I hope people take away, even if they haven’t been incarcerated themselves, they take away that not all stereotypes about youth that have been in these systems are true.”
The cafe’s mission has already attracted attention, but the partnership with the NFL only amplifies its message.
“How much people idolize football and the football players, when they are giving the message, I feel like it hits their hearts a little harder especially with a lot of these players coming from the same circumstances that the involved youth have come from as well,” Tristyn shares.
“Football is America’s sport, everyone tunes into football. So if such a big organization is supporting us, it gives a lot more meaning to the message because it’s such a huge organization doing all they can to give us our voice but make our voice louder.”
But the young chefs won’t be the only ones cooking up good vibrations when Cafe Momentum opens for its first lunch service on February 7, they’ll have some pros backing them up. NFL legend Shaun Alexander and former linebacker Dhani Jones will both be on hand to demonstrate their culinary skills.
Cafe Momentum Pop-up Experience
Wednesday & Thursday February 7 & 8, 2024
11 am – 1 pm
Super Bowl LVIII Radio Row
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