Cafe Moxo finds a way to give back and push on

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Richard Bailey, Editor

  • Mark Forinash is not your average restaurant owner. Serving free meals to those in need during the pandemic, the restaurateur pays above-average wages and sets hours to assure a work-life balance for employees.

After leaving pharmacy school, Mark Forinash has spent the last 13 1/2 years making Cafe Moxo one of the most talked-about establishments in town. The word-of-mouth style recommendations have kept the doors swinging since they first opened in January 2007. That’s why the Coronavirus epidemic hit Cafe Moxo particularly hard. When the first state shutdown was announced on March 17, the effects were immediately felt.

“There was an 85 percent drop in revenue overnight,” Forinash said.

The dwindle in business also permanently shuttered a second location, called ‘Cafe Moxo Too, which was housed in Springfield Clinic’s West Campus on 6th street. With that site shutting down, Cafe Moxo was left with the task of moving and storing an entire restaurant’s worth of equipment.

“Springfield Clinic let us walk-away from that [situation] with no added fees or penalties,” he said.

Even with all of the extraordinary changes, Forinash considers it a blessing to be deemed essential and able to continue to operate in some capacity. While the authorities on the state and federal level discussed how to handle the rapidly-changing public health crisis, Cafe Moxo decided to give back to the community the best way that they knew how Рto feed the community.

In April 2020, Cafe Moxo started feeding breakfast and lunch to those in need. It wasn’t long before they realized that there were more people that needed help than what they initially realized. After establishing a drive-through, pick-up system, Cafe Moxo later delivered meals to some who were homeless and staying in local hotels. Cafe Moxo also provided meals to The Salvation Army and local churches, even on Sunday’s when the restaurant is normally closed.

“This is an opportunity to really come together and put words into action. It’s all about giving back to the community that’s given so much to us [Cafe Moxo],” Forinash said about the food giveaways.

Cafe Moxo and Forinash seem to have always looked at things with a wider lens. Employees of Cafe Moxo have been paid at least $15  an hour since 2009.

The hours of operation also allow for an excellent work-life balance that is hard to come by when working in the service industry. Forinash recognized that by not overworking employees, they are much less likely to experience a burnout, which often leads to many restaurants to experience a high turnover rate. Even when Cafe Moxo was open during regular hours, no employee would be scheduled to work both Saturday and Sunday.

“I don’t want myself or my crew to miss out on life!” Forinash said.

With that comment, one can clearly understand why Cafe Moxo’s response was to give back. Cafe Moxo is located at 411 E. Adams St., and current business hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday – although COVID-19 restrictions may alter business hours from time to time.

You can purchase gift cards on their website, and order online for pick-up or delivery.