McMurphy's Grill (614 North 11th Street; 314-231-3006) is your normal restaurant in every sense of the word -- it has a diverse menu featuring everything from a pulled-pork pita to an Irish stew, and it's often bustling during the lunch hour.
What sets the restaurant apart, however, is its employees. The staff at McMurphy's come from similar backgrounds ranging from homelessness to mental illnesses to substance abuse. The men and women employed there aren't just earning wages; they're learning basic life and work skills to help them get back on the right track.
The National Restaurant Association recently recognized McMurphy's for its work within the community with its prestigious "Restaurant Neighbor Award" for 2011. Though restaurants are often nominated for the award, founded by American Express, few receive it. (This year, Jimm's Steakhouse in Springfield was the only other Missouri restaurant to be recognized.)
McMurphy's is truly a community undertaking. St. Patrick's Center, Missouri's largest provider of homeless services, opened McMurphy's as part of its overall employment program. The Boeing Employees Community Fund provided start-up funding, the Pasta House Co. donated kitchen pans and silverware, and Anheuser-Busch and the Boeing Foundation underwrite associated training costs.
McMurphy's puts its employees through a three-month training program that teaches them to master restaurant skills in both the back and front of the house. Additionally, trainees meet with caseworkers from St. Patrick's Center to tackle issues preventing them from finding employment or housing. In 2010, 53 individuals participated in the restaurant training program. Twenty-eight of them completed their twelve weeks of training and found employment.
General manager Nunzio Lama tells Gut Check, "We receive many compliments from customers, who are amazed at how well this operation runs."
Be amazed yourself at McMurphy's Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.