Compass Connections Cafe is an absolute gem of a find on the Sunshine Coast's Cafe scene.
This charming cafe in Nambour is an initiative of The Compass Institute Inc.* and is proudly supported by various businesses including Cricks Nambour. People with disabilities are given on-the-job training, skills development and flexible employment within the hospitality industry.
Welcome to The Compass Cafe - Image: Elaine de Wet
I first heard about Compass Connections Cafe through social media, where at least once a week, one of the trainees extends an invitation to the public to visit the cafe and enjoy the hospitality on offer.
Presently, Compass Connections Cafe has nine trainees, working under the guidance of the Cafe Manager, Lynda. The majority of the cafe's wait staff have a disability. The wait staffs' on-the-job training includes greeting and seating customers, operating the cash register and making drinks, all with the ultimate goal to gain experience, knowledge and confidence and perhaps go on to work in other cafes.
Lynda and her staff on the day we visited - Image: Elaine de Wet
On the day we visited, we were fortunate to meet some of the staff (there are usually three trainees rostered on, on any given day) who were full of the joys of spring and bubbling over with enthusiasm to please. We were welcomed with open arms and made to feel that we were the most important people in the world.
The Compass Connections Cafe has an extensive Menu with everything from an all-day breakfast to burgers and toasties - and, I must say, at very reasonable prices. They even boast a '$10 Connection Deal', which includes a standard burger (beef or veggie) with chips plus a 390ml soft drink or a gourmet sausage roll, chips plus a 390ml soft drink - ideal for anybody passing through, looking for a munchie.
For those (like hubby) with a sweet tooth, Compass Connections Cafe have a 'Sweet Fix' including muffins, banana bread, house-made cake of the day and sweet-lovers slices (all made in-house).
Being lunch time, I ordered a small caesar salad and a skinny latte and hubby enjoyed a lemon slice with his coffee. The perfectly presented food was served promptly, with a cheery smile and showing attention to detail by remembering our names - adding another tick to the already-personalised service.
Caesar Salad and Lemon Slice - Images: Elaine de Wet
We enjoyed our meal amid chit-chat with Lynda and Renee (a trainee), who was very happy to entertain us with her absolute love of dancing. On completion of our meal, Renee presented me with my cardigan and even assisted me with putting said cardi back on again - true concierge service - and then proceeded to hug both hubby and myself as a thanks for visiting. As I said previously, we were truly made to feel very special.
Colourful indoor and outdoor seating - Images: Elaine de Wet
Compass Connections Cafe has indoor and outdoor seating, free wi-fi, is dog-friendly, and has plenty of on-site parking. They're very conveniently located on the Nambour-Connection Road and very close to the Nambour Showgrounds, so a perfect spot to stop off for a quick meal and a drink.
The Compass Institute Inc.* is an award winning Sunshine Coast based charity dedicated to providing support for people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Compass began in 1992 providing Alternative Education programmes to over seven thousand at-risk youth through local schools. In 2003, Compass followed its dream to open a post-secondary service for young people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. This was part of a long-held dream to dramatically change the philosophy behind this type of service from one of passive recreation to a pathway of lifelong learning, skills based training and vocational opportunities. Compass' staff and young people are living proof that anything is possible where there is a vision, self-belief and a strong work ethic.