News & Blog: Learner Stories

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Fatos, Apo, and their two sons moved to the United States from Istanbul. Before coming here, Fatos and Apo were business partners in their home country. Given her experience as a business owner, Fatos was able to quickly spot a need in West Michigan’s business community.

“When I came to here… I did not see that a restaurant had fresh and homemade food.”

Together, they began to design their restaurant and café: Café de Miro. However, they faced a few barriers.

“I can’t open one of these stores,” Fatos says, “because I don’t speak English too well.” That’s when Fatos and Apo came to the Literacy Center.

Fatos, who was enrolled in tutoring, and Apo, who is enrolled in English classes as well as a class specific to learning English for business ownership, found an important resource in the Literacy Center.

“English class helped me with the inspector,” says Apo, “[The] Health Department came and I understood more.” Apo also learned different ways to describe food in English, like whether an item is sweet or savory.

The café was the couple’s first experience with food service, which presented another barrier. However, Fatos was ready to take on that challenge. “I love design,” Fatos says, “I designed the place. Now I can design my food.”

Café de Miro is the newest addition to Breton Village Mall. It offers fresh and healthy breakfast and lunch items as well as coffee and tea.

Fatos enjoys seeing the same people come to the café. “In my country, and in my house, every time I have got a big table for people coming together to eat. People talk, dance, sing, and enjoy time around the table,” Fatos says.

“I want to make [this] for my guests… I don’t want to say customer – they are my guests. For my guests, I must serve.”

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