CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — For five years, Milt’s Barbeque for the Perplexed on Broadway Street has been serving up delicious kosher dishes.
“It was an idea of having a great kosher restaurant that was the ultimate in inclusivity. We made it kosher, nut-free, gluten-free items, vegan, so everybody could eat,” said owner Jeff Aeder.
The restaurant is also unique in that it donates 100 percent of its profits to charities.
“Each month, we pick a different charity. The Lakeview Pantry, the Nettelhorst — all different, worthwhile organizations in the community.”
Aeder has now expanded his business after having been inspired, in part, by his niece, Zahava.
“My niece has intellectual disabilities. She had gone through the Keshet program, which is a spectacular program, through grade school, then high school. Then she went to Israel for two years and then she came home and my sister was trying to figure out what the next opportunity was for Zahava,” he said. “My sister wanted an opportunity for her to achieve her potential, and she told me that 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed.”
As a result, Milt’s Extra Innings was born.
Located in the storefront next door, it’s a kosher deli that employees people with developmental disabilities.
“We have created this environment there. We have 13 special needs employees there now. We partner with Keshet to help, find, identify and train young adults with disabilities and we’re going to have them as our employees.”
Zahava, 21, was Milt’s first employee. She says the job has given her a path and a purpose.
“I work in the front, and I take people’s orders, and I organize the food. I really like it,” she said. “A new career, a new job — I’m getting paid and I’m really liking it. So far so good.”
Aeder says he hopes Milt’s will lead by example. His goal is to build an inclusive community that could eventually expand nationwide.
“It’s been unbelievable. One of my cashiers has Down syndrome — and they all have different things, but they all have so much potential. They are so happy to be working. They are so happy to be engaging with people. The staff there is incredible. We are creating a life for them, which is fulfilling. It’s made their lives better and, in turn, it makes you, the consumers’ lives better. It’s been a ton of fun for us.”
Milt’s Extra Innings serves, delivers and caters. There are no trans-fats or MSG used in their food.
The space also showcases Aeder’s love for baseball with displays of his own Jewish baseball memorabilia.
“I named the restaurant in honor of my uncle Miltie. We are located near Wrigley Field. I’m a huge Cubs fan and baseball fan. I have the largest collection of Jewish baseball memorabilia in the world, so I combined the place with another passion. There have been 170 Jews who have played in the Major Leagues, and the whole history is told on the walls of Milt’s Extra Innings. So it’s a nice play on Wrigley and the motif and on another one of my hobbies,” he laughed.
Milt’s Extra Innings is open from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.