A new restaurant in Downtown Naperville is set to open its doors to the public next week. Chez Francois Poutinerie located at 22 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 120, is going to be the first Poutinerie in the city.
“It was my dream. When I moved here nine years ago, I was craving for authentic poutine. I tried to find poutine everywhere and the problem is either they screw up the cheese, either they screw up the gravy, or either they screw up the fries. It’s never the perfect combination,” said Thi Nguyen, the owner of Chez Francois Poutinerie.
Poutine is a French-Canadian comfort food that consists of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy sauce. Some of the different types of poutine being served are steak, the Montreal, the Hangover, and the Lumberjack. Vegetarian and vegan poutines are also available.
Along with this being the first Poutinerie in Naperville, Chez Francois is also giving people with special needs employment opportunities.
“The problem is my son, he was nonverbal until he was 10 years old. He still cannot communicate well. He’s a lower functional and a lot of population like him has no chance to find a job. They are very isolated at home,” said Nguyen. “The school system is perfect because they interact with the community, they interact with the regular students. But when they are 22, bang they are at home and doing nothing. So, I thought to myself, why don’t we create a business that we can employ this population.”
Nguyen says she currently has 35 regular employees that will be working alongside the 80 employees that have disabilities. Nguyen’s main goal is to give the employees with disabilities valuable experiences in the work field.
“They can come work a couple hours a week and then learn basic training such as cleaning a table, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the windows, but they will have the support of the job coach. So, with this program after six-week full time or a couple of months they would be able to get enough skill to be employed by other businesses in Naperville,” said Nguyen.
“It’s great, awesome. Getting more skills, everybody can do more skills, cleaning skills, and kitchen work skills,” said Alex Norquist, an employee.
Chez Francois Poutinerie will open to the public on July 18.
“Just come and support us and be patient because you know we are all learning, and the kids are very excited. They’re not kids, they’re adults, but I still call them kids and they are all excited because they all want to meet the community and they want to be part of this community and they are excited to be open, like me,” said Nguyen.
Naperville News 17’s Anthony Yench reports.
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