Newport Rib Company in Costa Mesa has been a staple in the Costa Mesa community since 1984. Family-owned and operated by the Ursini family, the original Rib Company location, along with its sister location in Belmont Shores, remain committed to their founding principles: being a premier spot for great BBQ, and a place where locals meet to share stories of the neighborhood and out-of-town visitors come to sample the rich history of delicious BBQ in a setting that is warm and inviting.
For more than 30 years, Newport Rib Company has been involved in the community and sets a high standard for giving back.
As part of Newport Rib Company’s community commitment, the restaurant partnered with Goodwill of Orange County’s Community-Based Services program to provide job opportunities for people facing barriers to work.
Since 1990, Goodwill’s Community-Based Services program has given people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to gain valuable job skills and greater social and economic independence through business partnerships.
Two years ago, Newport Rib Company welcomed four Goodwill program participants to their team and they have never looked back.
Monday through Friday, the team arrives with smiles on their faces – ready and excited to complete the day’s work. With a job coach helping along the way, they complete all the utensil rolling for the restaurant and its weekly catering jobs.
The team does this for two or three hours everyday, in addition to cleaning the blinds and tables on Monday mornings, and various other jobs needed. No matter the task, the program participants approach work with an infectious enthusiasm.
Laura and John, the Ursini family members operating the restaurant, greet the participants with a ‘Good Morning’ or a high-five for a positive boost to begin their workdays. It’s not only uplifting for the participants, but it has created a family environment at the restaurant.
“We believe this is a great partnership for our organization or for any others that are thinking about it,” states Laura. “It has brought a community feel to our restaurant that we really embrace.”
From the beginning, Newport Rib Company’s experience with Goodwill’s Community-Based Services program was flawless. Two years later, the entire restaurant staff has bonded with the Goodwill team and is excited to see the crew every morning.
It’s not only about the meaningful work the Goodwill participants get to do, but the interactions and relationships they have formed with the Ursini family and staff. One of their favorite occasions, when it is someone’s birthday and the entire restaurant celebrates with a special lunch and cake.
“The work here creates a form of independence and also creates a form of creativity while working together as a team,” said Joanna Vega, Goodwill employee and the team’s job coach. “If they need assistance, they can ask for it. If they need independence, they are able to do their tasks alone.”
The best part of the job for the participants is Fridays. They celebrate the long workweek with a shared meal and sodas.
After experiencing Goodwill’s life-changing services for developmentally disabled individuals firsthand, John Ursini is a true proponent of the program stating, “I can’t imagine Newport Rib Co. without them!”
This story originally published in the June 2017 issue of Port Street Living.