While Café Chavalos has had to close due to financial challenges, the loss of a professional chef and the progress of the original chavalos, what they and the cafe accomplished is exemplary. Of the original chavalos, all have moved on. Oscar is now attending university, Juan Carlos is a teacher at one of our schools, Moises and Memo are finishing their high school careers, and Orlando is a sports trainer at a posh Nicaraguan Spa.
The beautiful building, lovingly renovated and painted by many volunteers, is now home to our Escuelita Yo Puedo school and auxiliary reading room for Puedo Leer, Granada’s first lending library.
A few years ago the chefs and waiters of CaféChavalos had no clue what curry or teriyaki sauce was. A napkin was an oddity. A gourmet meal was unheard of.
Some of the boys (los chavalos) had lived on the streets with local gangs, some did drugs for dinner, others just idled their time on street corners, waiting for the day to end. No one attended school, and there was no work.
And then a new Building New Hope project challenged a group of difficult personalities to forge into a different kind of brotherhood. An agreement to exchange their street lives for culinary training was the start of new lives that had been beyond their imagination. They would receive cooking and restaurant service skills taught by professionals. With Building New Hope's financial backing, Los Chavalos started their small café by serving the public. Soon a special fraternity emerged, binding Los Chavalos into their own self-help group, keeping each other on an upward track.
Dinners of chicken and fish filets, sauces for which they have become famous, cream soups, fresh vegetable salads, and homemade desserts came from their energy. It put CaféChavalos into “the best tasting cuisine in town” category. Tourists began to frequent their café and were followed by swarms of tour groups. The café became one of Granada’s best-known tourist attractions and a self-sustaining business.
In 2005, Los Chavalos headed north to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they were the guests of the Pennsylvania Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau, Whole Foods Market, and the Mayor of Pittsburgh. Their tour also included a visit to the Culinary Institute of Pittsburgh; speaking engagements for a Rotary club and area elementary, middle, and high schools; a radio program at Carnegie Mellon University, and a special Chavalos buffet prepared for Building New Hope supporters.
In a characteristic leap of faith, Building New Hope purchased a larger building to allow the café to train more students and serve more customers. It has been transformed into a stunningly unique restaurant in Granada’s historic district, with the donated help of architects and a talented Washington state artist, Katie Staib.
CAFÉ CHAVALOS: Overcoming the Streets
This new 75-minute documentary follows Orlando, Oscar, Juan Carlos and Moises as they attempt to rehabilitate their lives through Café Chavalos.
Directed by Nicaraguan native Alberto Chamorro,
the film crafts a moving and compassionate story of these four young men who overcome the streets
and their addiction through the power of hope.
CAFÉ CHAVALOS: Overcoming the Streets is a
painstaking observation of transformation of the troubled youth, as well as the changing city that has been
defined by its circumstances and not by its beauty. The soundtrack features local Nicaraguan reggaeton
The film is available on DVD for only $19.95. A portion of the
proceeds benefits Building New Hope's projects in Central America. Click on the image to order.