Cafe Staffed by Adults With Special Needs in Danger of Closing

A business in South Berwick, Maine, that employs people with developmental and intellectual disabilities is in danger of closing.

Madison's Cafe opened about one year ago, and co-owner Nicole McCoomb fears they can't afford to stay in their current location downtown.

"I had to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with [my employees]," said McCoomb. "It was heartbreaking."

McCoomb opened Madison's about two years ago and named it after her daughter. She wanted to ensure people like Madison had opportunities to find meaningful work.

"My thought ever since she was little was, 'What is going to happen when she graduates? Where will she go? What kind of work is she going to do?'" said McCoomb. "I wanted Madison to have a purpose in life ... to enjoy what she's doing, get a pay check, and, along with her, employ people that have disabilities, as well."

Waiter Dan Patstone got his first job at Madison's about a year and a half ago.

"I was able to make friends here while I worked," he said.

Now, Patstone and the other employees are trying to picture life without Madison's. McCoomb announced on Facebook that the cafe would be closing at the end of November.

"Due to our location, lack of parking etc... We will be closing our doors," a sign on the counter reads.

"I was pretty bummed," said Patstone. "Everyone else kind of took it pretty hard. It was losing a part of themselves, I believe."

Loyal customers were shocked to learn the news and concerned about the staff.

"Where do these employees go if she closed?" said Tiffany Roberts-Lovell. The recently elected State Representative decided to start a GoFundMe page to help McCoomb raise $30,000. They know the goal is lofty — but they're encouraged to have raised nearly $7,000 in a matter of days, as of Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it's very hopeful," she said.

McCoomb has scoped out another possible business location in the area, but has just a few weeks to decide if her business can survive.

"I tear up a lot," she said. "I feel like this is such an important mission. What we're doing and who we're employing — it can't go away."

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