LA LA Land Kind Cafe
LA LA Land Kind Cafe aspires to change lives by hiring young people who've aged out of the foster care system. They have recently opened a branch on Montana Avenue, their fifth cafe nationally. The article below is about LA LA Land’s young founder.
March 3, 2022
By Alaa Elassar, CNN
Francois Reihani was born into a loving and supportive family that provided for him in every way.
As a child, he thought that was normal. But as he grew older, he began to realize that other kids weren't so lucky -- and that he could do something about it.
In 2019, Reihani opened La La Land Kind Cafe, a small, all organic coffee shop in Dallas, Texas, that provides support and jobs to youth who have outgrown the foster care system.
The shop, which is a white renovated home with joyful bursts of yellow inside and out, is meant to be a safe haven for these young adults, Reihani, a 24-year-old restaurateur, told CNN.
"Imagine thinking your whole life that you're worthless, that your parents didn't want you," Reihani said. "Then you have to be placed into a system where no one really cares -- you're living in 10 different foster homes, you've never received any real love."
Once children in the foster care system turn 18, they become responsible for themselves, Reihani said. But because they didn't receive adequate love and support, many end up homeless or unable to afford higher education.
Through La La Land Kind Cafe, he hopes to change that for at least some young adults.
"We truly are in the business of kindness," he said. "We provide not just a stable job for our youth, but a support system with love and care. The basics that any human being needs in our lives."
Resolving to make a difference
At the age of 12, Reihani moved from Mexico to the United States with his family. And, with their support, he prospered.
Years later, while studying at Southern Methodist University, Reihani began volunteering with a local non-profit organization that helps children in the foster care system. But after hearing one too many stories of neglect and abuse, he resolved to do more.
"I didn't want to leave a Band-Aid on it," he said. "I wanted to solve the entire problem. This meant providing housing help, job placement, mentorship, help with schooling and therapy.”