Strand Theater and Seneca Valley SchoolDistrict Partner on New Cafe

Arts and Entertainment

January 29, 2018

From: Strand Theater Initiative

New Café to Open From Partnership With The Strand Theater and The Seneca Valley School District

ZELIENOPLE - The Strand Theater announced today that is has entered into a partnership with The Seneca Valley School District Special Needs Program to help operate its newly acquired café.  The Strand Box Office & Cafe will operate next to the historic Strand Theater in the building formerly occupied by Iron City Vapor Lounge & Coffee Shoppe at 121 North Main Street.  The non-profit Strand Theater Initiative already owns the building and agreed to purchase the café equipment, fixtures and supplies from the previous tenant and will reopen only as a coffee shoppe; vape will not be sold.
"There really isn't a better retail concept than a gourmet coffee shoppe next to a theater. But with our limited resources, we knew we needed help to get it up and running," said Ron Carter, President & Executive Director of the non-profit Strand Theater Initiative.
Carter was made aware that The Seneca Valley School District was running a café on their high school campus, operated by students in the district's Special Needs program.  There was already a preexisting relationship between the theater and the school district.  Special needs students have been coming to The Strand twice a week for a number of years, providing cleaning services, light maintenance and other needed jobs.  The idea formed that students already engaged in operating the campus café could transition to the new, Main Street Café.
Carter met with Jessica Pyle, Special Ed Transition Coordinator, and then had a follow up meeting with Gerald Miller, Director of Special Education.  The basic framework formed to have SV students staff and operate the new café weekday mornings while school is in session.  The students would run the café in the morning, then Strand Box Office staff would take over in the afternoons.  The actual Box Office will move from The Strand into the café next door.  Patrons will be able to enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee when they stop in to buy or pick up their theater tickets.
"We could not be more excited about the potential that this new and unprecedented partnership between a private charity and a public school district holds," added Carter, "The Strand benefits from having these inspiring students run the café weekday mornings during the school year, and the students get genuine, 'real world' work experience beyond what they've learned by being involved in the campus café."
For now, the district is supplying teaching staff to supervise the students at its expense.  The two organizations have agreed that, longer term, and once its determined that it can operate as in independent business, that The Strand would help to fund a portion of the salary of the staff that supervises the students operating the café.
"In the 2016-17 school year, the District opened a coffee shop in the Seneca Valley Senior High School and it is operated by students who have special needs," said Gerald Miller, Director of Special Education at Seneca Valley, "Our goal was to provide students with work-related skills that can be transferred into the community and foster independence. This partnership with the Strand enables us to take that next step of having our students working in an actual cafe', interacting with our community."
The Strand Box Office & Café will officially open to the public on Monday, February 5.  It will operate from 8am - Noon Monday, 8am - 4pm, Tuesday - Friday with additional hours to be announced.  Members of the media and the community are invited to visit the café and talk with representatives from The Strand Theater Initiative and Seneca Valley School District about this new venture.
For additional information and interview opportunities, please contact Ron Carter, President & Executive Director at The Strand Theater at 742.742.0400 or or Jessica Pyle, Special Ed Transition Coordinator, at 724.452.6041 x1402 or or Gerald Miller, Director of Special Education at 724.452.6040 x1633 or