Food & Drink

New Owners of Mara's Café Host Meet & Greet in Fanwood

Michele Fords (right), CEO of Inroads Opportunities, speaks with members of the community. Credits: Michael Bruchert
ITO provides contract packaging and assembly work for many types of businesses in the tri-state area. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Mara's Café employees (left to right) Erin, Jonathan, and Gary. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo, Councilman Russ Huegel, and Officer Gottlick of the Fanwood PD. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Jessica Szczepanik, Program Development Manager of InRoads to Opportunities joins representatives of the agency and trade associations. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Mara's serves an array of cupcakes along with muffins, cakes, croissants, and homemade gelato. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Erin and Paul-Michael O'Loughlin, general manager of Mara's. Credits: Michael Bruchert

FANWOOD, NJ – Township council members, business representatives, and officers from Fanwood Police Department visited Mara’s Café & Bakery on Wednesday morning, where new owners InRoads to Opportunities held a community meet and greet.

After purchasing the well-known café in the fall of 2015, InRoads to Opportunities has maintained its core mission by providing jobs for individuals with disabilities. Headquartered in Roselle, NJ, the not-for-profit has expanded throughout Union County to help young adults transition from school to work with proper training.

“I think one of things that the community needs to understand is that they are us, and we are them,” said Michele Ford, CEO of InRoads to Opportunities. “I thought that a place that saw a lot of people every day and, really for people for entry level, this kind of facility gets work exposure for kids and young people getting into the business. It’s a great jump off and a pleasant environment for people to have an experience when they come in to work.”

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The agency provides extensive services including: job coaching, mental health, vocational assessment, transition to the workplace, and 11 contract packaging & assembly production lines where individuals can learn labor skills. At Mara’s, young adults will work directly with supervisors to learn about baking, food safety, and business management.

Located at 250 South Avenue in Fanwood, NJ, Mara's Café & Bakery serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. The café hosts live music events, brunches, and buffets weekly.   

About Inroads to Opportunities
Inroads to Opportunities (ITO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing and providing individuals with disabilities life and work skills in a safe, supportive environment. ITO acts as a bridge to work opportunities as well as to foster independence and growth to help the individuals served become active, productive members of society.

Editor’s Note: Mara’s Café & Bakery is an advertiser with Contact John Mooney,, for more information about advertising opportunities.

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