Seattle's FareStart Restaurant

There are just some restaurants that make you feel good.

FareStart in Seattle (1902 2nd Avenue) is one of them.

Not just a restaurant, but also a comprehensive training approach that, for over 12 years, has helped homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and their families, create new opportunities for their future. 

The training program combines 16-weeks of hands-on food service training with classroom instruction, individual case management, and job placement to allow graduates of the program to successfully reenter the community and create a new life.  After graduation, an additional 18 months of follow up services is provided, helping graduates get and keep jobs, and make a living wage.

FareStart is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11 am to 2 pm, and is frequently referred to as one of the best lunch values in town.  The restaurant is known for its casual atmosphere, reasonable prices and great food. 

Every Thursday night is Guest Chef Night.  This event features top chefs from the Seattle area working with FareStart students to produce a gourmet meal.  The three-course, priced-fixed, meal is open to the public, and it books up fast.  Dinner seatings are between 5:30 pm and 7:45 pm.  Cost:  $19.95.  Wine and beverages are also available for an additional charge.  The Guest Chef Night also features a graduation ceremony and student speakers.

The recent Guest Chef Night that I attended featured Bruce Ross from the private Columbia Tower Club. Chef Ross came to each of the tables, talking to the guests, explaining the menu and food choices, and promoting the FareStart program.  He does the Guest Chef night every year, and raves about it.

The menu was (in non-foodie terms):
 Appetizer ““ seared tuna
 Entrée ““ beef tenderloin and grilled vegetables
 Dessert ““ panna cotta with blueberry compote (yummy!)

Dinner for two, including wine, and all taxes, was around $55.  It is such a great program, that I’m sure my table was not the only one leaving a generous tip.

It’s a great evening when you can indulge your passion for good food and friends, while still giving something back to your community.

If you have a similar program to FareStart in your area, please let me know. 

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UPDATE:  FEBRUARY 3, 2007

FareStart has moved into a bigger and better location at 7th & Virginia. 

It’s still the same great program, and now it can serve even more students!

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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