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December 7, 2018

Crowdfunding campaign helps South Berwick cafe stay open

Madison's Café, a South Berwick restaurant that employs intellectually disabled young people and was scheduled to close Nov. 30, plans to remain open after a community-led crowdfunding campaign raised $13,000 to help pay the bills.

The eatery, which opened in 2017 and was named Employer of the Year by York County Community College, has renewed an annual lease at 12 Portland St., Seacoastonline.com reported Thursday.

Madison's is staffed largely by employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities, a business concept inspired by co-owner Nicole McCoomb's then-20-year-old daughter, according to Seacoast. Unemployment among young people with disabilities runs at more than 80%, McCoomb said.

The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch six days a week. But hampered by a lack of parking, business had been slow, and Madison's was saddled with high overhead costs and mounting debt.

On Nov. 5, McCoomb and business partner Sean Roy announced the restaurant would close at the end of the month.

Within hours, local residents launched a GoFundMe site to support the café. On Friday morning, the funding drive had collected $12,952 toward its $30,000 goal, and generated over 1,000 Facebook "shares."

"We all want to see Madison's succeed and continue on for generations. If we come together as a community we can make it happen," the site reads.

Now the restaurant is changing things up in order to remain open. McCoomb said she's planning a new menu, increasing marketing, and expanding Madison's catering and events business.

"We've got a lot of work to do to stay," she said.

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