• Family Focus: Café gives hope, peace of mind to veterans

    By: Natalie Pasquarella


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There is a new way for veterans in Charlotte to try to get back on their feet – it is a restaurant where the owner is hiring only veterans.

    On Friday, Eyewitness News talked to one new employee grateful for the work.

    As the new signs for America's Veteran's Café go up on Albemarle Road, an older one that has attracted a lot of attention is staying put.

    "I saw it on the bus as I was driving past and I said, 'Hey, I am a vet! Let me stop right here,'" said Navy Veteran Alphonso Pace.

    The "Hiring Military Vets" sign is the reason Pace now has a job.

    "I feel empowered," he said.

    Pace served as a Navy missile technician for three years. He told Eyewitness News he has been unemployed for a year and has also struggled with fitting back into the community.

    "There's a lot of resentment because we put our lives on the line, a lot of guys, they feel like at the very least, we deserve a chance in society," said Pace.

    He got that chance along with eight other veterans at the restaurant after owner, Tori Duncan decided she would only hire vets.

    "Being a veteran, I understand the challenges coming off active duty," said Duncan.

    Duncan is a 13-year Navy veteran. She said that after she served she had to apply for food stamps because work was scarce.

    Now her goal is to bring veterans together.

    "I miss the camaraderie from active duty, and I know that fellow vets do too, so by having it 100 percent veteran, we show everybody else, what it means to be a team, and what it means to work together."

    The café has a military feel to it.

    "Camouflage paint in the bathrooms! We wanted it to look like the uniforms they're used to wearing," said Duncan.

    They will start by serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, but eventually Duncan hopes to be a one-stop shop for veteran's services, providing information on housing, rehab and financial counseling.

    "We want to get the cafe out there as the place to go for any information that a veteran needs," said Duncan.

    Pace said he is excited to have this opportunity and he hopes this place sets an example for others.

    "If anything, I hope it'll be an inspiration for a lot of other business owners that could pick up the idea," said Pace.

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