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Willard cafe targets February opening

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A cafe that organizers first aimed to launch 10 months ago is on pace to bring a buzz to Willard next month.

The Hive is expected to open its doors at 501 E. Jackson St., Ste. E, within the first two weeks of February, said Melissa Skaggs, director of 501(c)(3) Hive of the Ozarks, which operates the eatery. The concept is intended to serve as a community hub and career launch pad for people with developmental disabilities. She said those with disabilities make up nearly half of the cafe’s 21-employee workforce.

“We haven’t gotten our final inspection yet from the city because we have a tiny bit of electrical to do and plumbing isn’t quite finished,” she said of final hurdles to opening.

Revisions of architectural plans and supply chain issues during the infill process have contributed to delays, Skaggs said. Springfield Business Journal initially reported plans for The Hive in February 2021.

“With patience and perseverance, it’s still going to happen,” she said. “I’m just as excited today as I was a year ago.”

Startup costs for the 1,800-square-foot cafe should finish around $20,000, Skaggs said, declining to disclose the five-year lease rate with Neal Wood. She said Wood also provided architecture services for the cafe to the nonprofit.

Hive of the Ozarks has raised roughly $15,000 from local donors, she said. Fundraising efforts include selling branded merchandise available through the organization’s website, HiveOfTheOzarks.com.

Skaggs, who retired in 2019 from Willard Public Schools after a 30-year career in education, said The Hive’s workers with differing abilities will be limited to 500 hours of employment in order to expand opportunities for others.

“We had our job fair in the middle of November, and it was fantastic,” she said. “We had lots of people show interest.”

The Hive will open with an abbreviated menu to ease the kitchen staff into the workload, Skaggs said. Sandwiches, such as a Tuscan turkey melt and roast beef, will be served, as will pastries, salads and soups, including chicken tortilla. Drinks include smoothies, teas and coffee.

“We had so many sandwich options and we want to add a new item every two weeks,” she said. “We decided we want to be successful with a few things and then grow from there.”

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user39184

Wonderful news!

Tuesday, January 18
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