Where is the café located?

Melly's Market + Café + Workplace is an AODA-accessible café and market located at 1022 Brock Street South in Whitby.

Through our state-of-the-art café, we offer Melly's Development Program. Our exclusive program is a hands-on, interactive development program facilitated by professional educators and coaches with more than 20 years of experience educating and coaching adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How can I get started?

Melly's Interactive Development Program begins with a Meet and Greet. This get-to-know-you conversation helps learn more about the individual's  life experiences, learning needs, goals and dreams. Fill out our application form to set up a call.

What is included in the program?

We focus on the whole person in our development program. Our goal is to provide each person with transferable skills while building confidence and independence. There are 16 development modules, including health and safety, customer service, product knowledge, cleaning and maintenance, food safety, beverage preparation, and baking, to mention a few. All training is customized to meet the skills, level of knowledge and abilities of each person. The program is challenging! We  encourage each person to step outside their comfort zone to reach their full potential.
We use many learning strategies in our program and move between our development room, market, cafe and kitchen throughout the day to maximize feedback and opportunities to practice skills.

Why is there a program at all? Can't someone just get a job and be trained through an employer?   
This program is something adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have asked for. We provide a physical space with similar equipment and scenarios to a typical retail environment without the pressure or potential rejection. The people interested in our program have asked for an opportunity to learn about working in a retail environment, where they can move at a pace that supports their growth and development. Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can learn in a stress-free environment and develop their skills at their pace. When they are ready to start looking for employment, we support that through connecting with employers and developing a plan that aligns with who they are, their abilities, and most importantly, what THEY want to do. 

How long is the program?

The initial $5000 covers a 6 month commitment. Not everyone is ready to begin their employment journey after 6 months. Some prefer to continue developing in the program. After the initial 6 months, we continue in 3 month commitments.

How often do I have to attend?
Adults attending this program are excited to continue developing themselves, with the goal of learning what kind of part-time employment they might like to pursue after graduation. To best support this goal, we recommend 3 days a week, each session is 4 hours. The sessions always include up to 1 hour in our café learning side-by-side with a coach about making coffee, taking orders and providing great customer service. We always have a stretch session, a team-building exercise and advocacy and agency support. Each person spends time in our development room working on specific modules that they have personally selected to work on. We also bring a culinary professional in each Thursday to run a baking module. 

How much does the program cost?

$5000 for 6 months. Pay in full + payment plans available.

The program is expensive. Are there any subsidies available?

There is a $500 ODSP Employment and Training Start-Up Benefit. There is also $5000 Passport funding available through Canopy Support Services. The individuals would contact their respective caseworkers with both of these programs.

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This sounds like a lot of work. Will I have fun too?

Our development program is intended for serious learning; however, a fun and interactive experience such as role-playing and games and videos and other methods for observation and practise are incorporated. There are awards, prizes, rewards and many incentives granted for various stages of completion. Friendships will be developed, and connections are supported through ongoing social and community events offered at the café.

Where will I work when I finish the training?

All graduates of the training will have 6 months of development experience earned through  Melly's Market + Cafe. In addition, a graduate will be paired with an employment coach to explore opportunities for employment within the community.   

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Melly's Workplace is a registered charity and social enterprise that offers a unique opportunity for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to contribute to their community in a purposeful and meaningful way while developing their talents, embracing their unique abilities and building new skills that advance their opportunities to empower their life's decisions. Please visit and follow us

Backgrounder: Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and excellent workers but are chronically unemployed. A disability does not necessarily make someone unable to work. In fact, research shows that people with disabilities are great employees and often rank higher than their colleagues in many workplace evaluation categories. Contrary to what many people believe, more and more employers are hiring people with a variety of disabilities, and those employees are staying with the company longer, they are more productive, and they have a higher workplace safety record.
Melly's serves to be an example to our community of what the disability community is capable of and to help them gain the work experience that they are asking for.