Desiree's Story

There are so many examples of broken lives mended and healed because of the support you so generously provide to Old Skool Cafe. Desiree’s is one of them.

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From the earliest age, I had the odds stacked against me.  My parents were addicts, then gone.

My grandmother stepped up and we tried to look after each other. We went to food banks together, recovered together after I was assaulted in the basement of our apartment building.

After the assault,  the two of us ran away to an abandoned drug house, living without electricity or hot water.

And then one morning I woke up and realized I’d slept through bullets being fired into the house, piercing the wall, an inch from my head.

It was a breaking point; I stopped caring about myself, or life.

My siblings were in gangs, and suddenly, I saw the appeal of joining a gang as well.

I stayed out all night and started drinking. Many times I got caught by the police, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything.

See, just when a lot of young people are applying for college or getting ready for prom, those of us with a history of abuse and neglect, are turning to gangs and crime to fill a void left by broken families and a broken system.

Luckily for me, when I was most lost, I was found.  By Old Skool Cafe.

Old Skool Cafe gave me the training, safety, and family to break the cycle I was trapped in.

I earned money, legally.

I learned on-the-job skills, and so much more, like how to trust and how to be trustworthy.

And most of all, how to find my purpose and hope for my future.

Running a full-service restaurant is hard work. It’s an emotionally charged and fast-paced environment. But whether we’re prepping in the kitchen, in the middle of service, or catering a party, Old Skool Cafe is a family that pulls together and gets it done.


Old Skool Cafe changed my life. I walked in the door, at the age of 15, at the lowest point in my life, convinced I wasn’t worth fighting for. Now, as Old Skool Cafe’s office manager, I get to help the youth in our programs find their own hope for the future.

You can invest in young people just like Desiree. Please make a gift to Old Skool Cafe today.

Meet Anthony Avila


My name is Anthony Avila, and I am an 18 year old musician from San Leandro, CA. I started playing guitar when I was 12, but I really starting taking the study of the guitar more seriously at the age of 16 when I started Jazz lessons. I first started lessons under Brad Rosten, but have also studied under prominent Bay Area jazz musicians such as Terrence Brewer, Mads Tolling, and Anton Schwartz. These teachers have taught me everything that I know about Jazz, which prepared me for professional work as a musician. I first began taking gigs as a professional musician a little under a year ago when an opportunity to play at the Old Skool Cafe was presented to me during my time as a member in an SFJAZZ program. The performance led to consistent work with OSC as well exposure which has landed me various gigs playing at weddings, other venues, and corporate events. I was a member of Jazz in the Neighborhood's Emerging Artists program, the leader, arranger, and guitarist for the nine-piece Arroyo Jazz Collective, and am currently partaking in the Jazz Search West Competition. I hope you all will be seeing more of me in the future, and my music career will forever be indebted to the Old Skool Cafe.

Lindy Hop Living Legends

At Old Skool Cafe, we are committed to empowering our youth to understand the richness of their histories. That’s why our menu is full of recipes from our Grandmothers, and why pictures of the Cotton Club and Louis Armstrong fill our walls. As part of their initial training, all Old Skool Cafe youth attend weekly swing dance classes!

So when our friends at Swingin’ at the Savoy approached us about hosting an evening with Norma Miller (the Queen of Swing) and Chester Whitmore (Hollywood performer and choreographer) , we couldn’t have been more delighted. Our youth researched our special guests and prepared interview questions and a trivia contest for our guests. What a privilege to celebrate Black History Month by learning directly from our heroes and trailblazers who are still with us!

A huge thank you to Ms. Miller, Mr. Whitmore, Shawn, and the entire Lindy Hop community for helping us make this happen!


Teresa Goines speaks at Bakersfield Prayer Breakfast

January 24, 2019 — Old Skool Cafe founder and CEO Teresa Goines was the keynote speaker at the 39th Annual Bakersfield Prayer Breakfast. The morning brought together leaders from across the public sector with a special focus on praying for at-risk kids in the community. Teresa spoke from 1 Corinthians 13.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13:13

Following the Breakfast, Teresa gave an inspirational talk to 400 ASB members from local high schools. She encouraged them to dream of ways they could give back to their community by using their gifts and talents.

We did it! Challenge grant met.

This summer, we launched our Give Youth a Voice Campaign to raise funds for our new performance area. The goal was to raise $10K to update our equipment to provide our young people with an excellent platform to showcase their talents.  And just as the exciting... The Miranda Lux Foundation matched every gift with a critical $10K grant for our operating fund!

And together, we did it! We are so grateful to each one of you for investing in the lives and dreams of Old Skool Cafe. With every dollar you give, you make a profound impact on real people, a real community, and real dreams. We are so honored to do this work alongside you. It takes all of us, and we're grateful to have you on our team. 

With thankful hearts,

4 Father's Day Gifts that Give Back!

Old Skool Cafe is a non-profit supper club. Every dollar you spend goes back into our life-changing programs for at-risk young people! Here are 4 easy gifts for the men in your life... that also give back.

1. The gift that always fits-- a gift card to Old Skool Cafe!

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2. Help Dad look sharp in our youth-designed signature bow tie!


3. Donate to Old Skool in your father's name -- build on his legacy of love and care


3.  Spoil your dad in a major way with our Old Skool Cafe gift basket


Challenge Alert! Matching Grant Challenge for Tech & Music

Challenge alert! Old Skool Cafe has been offered a $10,000 challenge grant from the Miranda Lux Foundation. We're so excited! After we hit the technology fundraising goal, we'll unlock a critical $10,000 for our general fund. 

With our new stage, Old Skool Cafe has become an incredible venue for local young people to showcase and develop their talents. Enhancing our technology benefits the next generation of Old Skool youth performers!

Our planned upgrades: 

- A new projector for community movie nights 

- An electronic baby grand piano 

- Enhanced audio equipment

Together we can help make Old Skool Cafe one of the best places in the Bay Area to gather, hold events, and listen to great music. 

Founder Teresa Goines in an ABC7 Star!

Whenever we get a chance to share the Old Skool story, it’s a thrill! Old Skool is a story of empowerment, hope, and really, really good food. 


We were thrilled to have Alexis Smith and the ABC7 News Team over to Old Skool Cafe to have a look at our remodel and catch up with our youth. 

Our founder, Teresa Goines, has spent her life working with at-risk youth. From her first job out of college as a corrections officer to owning a restaurant that has employed over 400 young people, we're thankful to see her work being recognized right here in the Bay Area. Check out the segment here

Mother's Day Brunch Success for Old Skool alum Chef Drew

Old Skool alum Chef Drew Gaxiola popped-up with his new catering company, Divine EatSF, at Old Skool Cafe on Mother's Day.  

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You may remember Chef Drew from his appearance on the Rachael Ray Show in 2014. On the show he was awarded a scholarship to pursue his culinary dreams. Fast forward four years-- Drew now works at Waterbar, a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco, and is pursuing opening his own restaurant. 

Seeing Chef Drew commanding the kitchen was the realization of a long-held dream-- that Old Skool Cafe would act as an incubator for the entrepreneurial dreams of our alumni. In the years to come, we hope our space will be used over and over to launch the next chefs, musicians, artists, and leaders in San Francisco. 

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Chef Drew assembled a team of past and present Old Skool employees to serve a three-course brunch and bottomless mimosas on Mother's Day. Teamwork makes the dream work!

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Nothing makes us happier than to see our youth out in the world pursuing their dreams!  

Founder's Corner: Spring at Old Skool Cafe


I can’t believe we’re already at the end of April! The jasmine bushes right outside my front door have never bloomed so beautifully and fragrantly. All around the neighborhood I see things growing. After a long season of drought and rain, it is encouraging to have this beautiful, green spring!

As spring is here, I can’t help but see the new life blossoming at Old Skool Cafe. ‘Teresa’ means ‘harvest’, and for many, many years a harvest is exactly what I have been waiting for. There has been a long season of constantly laying the foundation and investing in Old Skool Cafe with slow and sometimes incremental progress. It has been over ten years since we held our first OSC gala and I began running a pilot program from my home. Then four years ago, we had the joy of opening Old Skool as a restaurant. We are seeing the harvest, indeed!

Old Skool Cafe has become a solid place for our youth to heal and grow and develop into the young men and women they were intended to be. This spring we are welcoming a new cohort of twenty young people who will become Old Skool’s future servers, chefs, and managers. We are grateful for the seemingly small harvests that are truly very big. The next time you order from our new menus or walk underneath our beautiful new marquee, you’ll know that those finishing touches are part of a longtime dream come true. Our OSC alumni continue to flourish and follow their passions in school and in new jobs. We continue to grow our catering services, which will now be under the direction of Chef Kevin. There are new faces in the kitchen and greeting guests at the front door (more on that to come!). A blossoming harvest is all around us.

With the years, my dream for Old Skool continues to grow. With fresh, new energy and eyes, we will fortify and strengthen our programs. I am consistently asked to bring Old Skool to other parts of the country, and when we’re ready to expand, we want it to be with the best practices under our belts, and the very best programs that we can provide to other communities.

And I am beyond grateful for you. Thank you for your support and your prayers. Thank you for dining with us. Thank you for donating. Thank you for inviting friends to learn more about Old Skool. And most of all, thank you for investing in our youth.

With gratitude,

Teresa Goines


Staff Openings at Old Skool Cafe

Looking for a new start to the new year? Are you looking to help youth transform their lives and move from merely surviving to THRIVING? Come work for Old Skool! We are looking for restaurant and hospitality professionals eager to work at our one-of-a-kind, youth-run supper club! If you love food and have restaurant experience (or know someone that does!), check out our available staff positions and email us at:

General Manager - Restaurant

Sous Chef

Want to learn more? See Old Skool in action!

Old Skool Cafe Pop Up + Dinner Party

Celebrate Thanksgiving early this year with CRAVE Productions, as we bring together Old Skool tradition with new school funk and support the next generation. We invite you to give thanks and enjoy an evening of culinary exploration, incredible soul music and good times.

Our host, Old Skool Cafe, is a 1940s-style youth-run supper club, providing jobs and training to at-risk youth. All of the evening's proceeds will directly support Old Skool. Tickets are limited - reserve now!