Cafe offers recovering addicts new skills

Justin Franich, executive director of Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, stands by the espresso machine at Redeeming Beans Cafe. Franich said this is his first restaurant and he hopes they can stay in business because he "loves coffee and might drink too much of it." Photo by Henry Culvyhouse

BASYE — At the foot of the mountain on Orkney Grade, across from the Bryce Ski Resort, residents and visitors can now treat themselves to a hot cup of coffee in a café environment.

Redeeming Beans Café opened Jan. 16, offering locally roasted coffee by Lucas Roasting in Broadway, espressos, cappuccinos, tea and specialty drinks to thirsty travelers and chilled skiers.

But store manager Justin Franich said Redeeming Beans offers much more than a jolt of java. It offers hope, he said.

The coffee shop is owned and operated by Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, a Christian-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. The program, started 15 years ago by Franich’s father after he witnessed his son battle a methamphetamine addiction, is a year long and serves both men and women along the Eastern Seaboard.

Franich, executive director of Teen Challenge, said he started the coffee shop to provide job skills training for women in the program. The program already has a similar relationship with Bryce Resort and George’s Chicken for the men.

“We have a two-fold purpose here, to bring in funds for our program and to teach our students a trade, teaching them how to communicate and run a coffee shop,” Franich said. “This will also prevent them from having a year-long gap in employment when they go home.”

The program is broken into two main phases, the first where the student is educated in how to use the Bible as a guide to overcoming addiction, and the second phase is to develop time and management skills as well as a work ethic, Franich said.

“During the first portion of the program, there is a cost incurred by the student, but once they transition to the work portion, their earnings go toward covering the tuition,” Franich said. “During the last two months, we completely wipe their responsibility to Teen Challenge, so when they graduate, they have money saved up.”

Franich said the idea to start a coffee shop stemmed from a need for one in Bryce.

“We have a couple great restaurants, the community store, but there’s no coffee shop,” Franich said. “You expect to see one in a resort community because what goes better than a cup of coffee after being on the slopes for three hours?”

Sam Smith, 35, of Virginia Beach, is a barista at the coffee shop. Smith said Teen Challenge saved her from a life of seeking “more” substances to dull “emotional pain.”

“The coffee shop is a great opportunity for me and allows me to apply what I’ve learned from the Bible to be a shining light in the community,” Smith said. “Plus, I’ve always wanted to be a barista and learning here is a lot slower paced.”

Learning to apply a work ethic, time management and money management skills allows her to live a “life with out sin” and to be a “good Godly woman,” Smith said.

“God led me to this place and I’ve never looked back since,” Smith said. “I was living a life of sin and I was making bad decisions that not only impacted me, but my child as well.”

Smith said overcoming addiction is not just a matter of quitting drug use, but quitting a way of life.

“I was doing anything to numb any emotional pain I had … so whether it was drugs, putting myself in dangerous situations with dangerous people, it was the whole lifestyle itself,” Smith said.

Smith added, “It was not being able to cope with issues of abandonment or toxicity and not feeling good at anything in my life. I know a lot of that had to do with the decisions I made … but most importantly there was an absence of God in my life.”

Smith said next August, when she graduates the program, she will return to college to pursue a degree in massage therapy, continue education to work with animals and to be a full-time mother.

Franich said during the first week of February, the café will roll out a breakfast and lunch food menu.

Redeeming Beans Café is located at 1618 Orkney Grade in Basye and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Friday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com