LONDON, ONT. -- Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has come up with a creative way to use the patio space at the former home of GT's, in hopes of continuing to help young people during the pandemic.

The youth training organization has extended the ‘YOU Made It Café’ menu to the patio across the street, at the corner of York and Richmond streets.

The manager of Food Services and Enterprise, Nick Martin, says since the front of house has been closed due to COVID-19, their youth trainees were robbed of gaining critical experience.

Martin adds that opening up the outdoor patio not only allows YOU to invite the community back, but it also helps the youth in training to gain some experience.

"A program like this, where the youth get some hand-over-hand experience in a real world environment, instead of just a textbook or a classroom, they get to really experience what it's like doing that job."

The food is prepared inside the You Made It Café by a team of experienced cooks, who also train youth during different shifts on how to prepare a meal.

Shawntae Bennett is one of the café's assistants, she went through the training support program three years ago and says it helped her gain important life skills.

"I have a lot of confidence talking to people that I wouldn’t normally go to talk to. I’ve gained a lot of bartending skills, food skills, front and back of house and I’ve built quiet a bit of confidence in the past couple of years," she says.

For Mark Beacock, who spent most of his career in the hospitably industry, working with youth and offering them guidance has really impacted his life.

"It makes you feel great, they come back after a while, and you see their success stories, and it's all about them, and how they've improved, gone to school and created a better life for themselves. This is a great program, just to see the youth succeed is amazing. We never give up on youth.”

The patio is open 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is following COVID-19 protocols.

The crew invites everyone to come down and enjoy some food and drink, while they gain some much needed experience.

More information on Youth Opportunities Unlimited can be found here