If you’re looking to buy local, don’t look any further than ‘around the corner’


Simona Laudicina

Cluster Program student Jamarious Hammond works the Around The Corner Delivery Cart.

By Simona Laudicina and Oliver Suckow

Around the Corner Cafe was founded during the fall of 2016 as a way to expand the Cluster Program into the Lane Tech community. The program is available to “transition-age students,” the ages of 18 to 22, as a way for them to work on their independent living skills.

This program offers a multitude of inclusive programs, spanning from modified curricula and sports, to activities that focus on daily living and learning new skills. Sandwiched between staircase M and the security desk is one of these programs: the Around the Corner Cafe. The stand is open between 8:30am and 10:30am everyday; in addition, they have pre-order forms available on their website that even include a delivery option. 

Anna Mullin, a Lane Tech case manager who works with the Cluster Program, said the Cafe works on a multitude of skill sets. 

Not only do students learn how to prepare and safely serve drinks, they practice customer service and money-handling skills that will be important for many different types of employment opportunities in the future, not only cafe-style jobs,” Mullin said in an email interview with The Champion

Many of the students who have participated in the program have gone on to successfully get jobs at businesses such as Starbucks and other customer service style stores, according to Mullin. 

In addition to the Around the Corner Cafe assisting with learning new skills, any proceeds made are used for Special Olympics equipment and uniforms, as well as Cluster Program outings and supplies. 

For teachers, the program offers a variety of drinks, such as iced coffee, tea, lemonade, hot chocolate and a variety of other beverages. Students are unfortunately unable to purchase any of the drinks the cafe has to offer due to Chicago Public Schools (CPS)’s strict food and drink policies. 

“Fortunately, students are able to purchase any of the Diverse Learner Cluster Program merchandise including, but not limited to, bath salts, perfume rollers, room sprays, dog treats and hair ties,” Mullin said.

The Cluster Program also sells holiday-themed greeting cards made by the students using recycled paper from Lane that are available to purchase by both students and teachers alike.

If none of the items listed above pique your interest, don’t be discouraged. The Around the Corner Cafe is looking to expand soon! With additional holiday themed pop-ups part of their program, the Around the Corner Cafe is planning on a spring pop-up in the upcoming weeks. If you’re curious as to what additional items the Cafe might offer in the upcoming months, make sure to either stop by their shop near door M or check out their website, which can be found on the Lane Tech website.