In November 2008, Tony Lancaster was driven to Southern California by his brother, and dropped off with a change of clothes and a backpack. Fresh out of rehab, having just lost his business and all of his money, Tony was without hope. But later that year, everything changed. He found Jesus Christ, which eventually led him to make a difference in the world by giving back what he himself had been given: hope. Tony started, and still leads, HOPE Café and Catering, which serves fresh, gourmet food to groups of any size (between 10 and 10,000!).
But that’s just the surface of his company. Tony is intentional about using the business God has given him to employ people that many business owners would not choose such as the homeless, recovering addicts, and those in need of a second chance. As Tony explains it, Hope Café is a place where people can learn a new trade, and ultimately learn to feed themselves, their families and their community. Hope Cafe has provided food for the Grammys, the Academy Awards, and the X-Games as well as Indy Car and NASCAR events. They’ve also served Kaiser Permanente, The City of Pasadena, Edison International, and The Rose Bowl.
Tony has dedicated his business and his life’s work to providing second chances for those who have been outcast, outsourced and overlooked, showing them grace and mercy. The name of the business illustrates this mission—HOPE: Help One Person Every day.
Tony’s own story is one of receiving a second chance, and he is passionate about using his story to encourage and help others. He volunteers his time and gives his resources for outreach events. He holds barbecues on Skid Row (a homeless community in the heart of Los Angeles) and leads his team as they prepare meals and serve together. At one event alone, they prepared and served over 4,000 boxed lunches. These events provide Tony the opportunity to serve others, and share his life story of how God brought him from substance abuse and homelessness to success in business.
As a Convene member, Tony is a leader within his team. HOPE Café and Catering is debt free, has cash reserves, and has doubled their business revenues. Tony is all over his KPI dashboard, and his favorite indicator is how much he gives back, with his goal being 10 percent of his top line. He is extremely supportive of his fellow Convene members, sharing resources and his successes. He has provided all the catering for a fellow member’s non-profit fundraising dinners, Crisis Pregnancy Center. And his generous support goes beyond just his Convene Team. Tony has offered to provide catering at fundraising events for ministries under the SoCal Barnabas Group umbrella
God does have a big vision for our lives, and He wants us to use what He has given us to bless others, and his power helps us go Infinitely Beyond what we can imagine or even do on our own.