Optimae LifeServices employs more than 200 individuals with mental illness and disabilities through its nine microbusinesses, which provide high quality goods and services, as well as economic benefits, to the communities we serve. By matching people’s skills with the work they love, we give them a valued role while helping them climb out of poverty and become productive members of their communities. Customer employees receive one-on-one job coaching to provide them with education and support they need to be successful on the job.
Our micobusinesses in Central Iowa include Plain Talk Books and Coffee, Railroad Bill’s Dining Car (and associated food truck), Raccoon Forks Farms, Raccoon Forks Foods, Brick Street Books and Cafe, Brick Street Bakery and Raccoon Forks Trading Company. We also operate Coal Palace Cafe and Books in Ottumwa.
See below for brief descriptions of all Optimae microbusinesses. To learn more, visit www.raccoonforks.com.
Raccoon Forks Trading Company
Raccoon Forks Trading Company is an antique store that specializes in furniture, primitives, prints and other vintage items. The store, which opened in 2011, is located at 621 Des Moines Street in the northeast corner of Des Moines’ East Village. The trading company’s carefully curated inventory will appeal to antique aficionados and interior designers looking for a unique piece.
Coal Palace Cafe and Books
The Coal Palace Cafe and Books is the first of Optimae’s microbusinesses to be opened outside of the Central Iowa region. Located at 226 West Main Street in Ottumwa, the Coal Palace offers a typical cafe breakfast and lunch menu, as well as organic coffee and freshly made desserts. It has a growing selection of used books for sale and offers an inviting atmosphere in the heart of the Ottumwa community.
Candy Caboose is the most recent microbusiness to join the Ottumwa community, having just opened in April of 2022. Located at 226 West Main Street in Ottumwa, Candy Caboose brings an ambiance of nostalgia to its customers by providing old-fashioned candies, sodas and popcorn that span across multiple different eras.
Railroad Bill’s Dining Car
Railroad Bill’s Dining Car is a breakfast and lunch diner located in the storefront next to Raccoon Forks Trading Company at 622 Des Moines Street, in the northeast corner of Des Moines’ East Village. The restaurant features a classic diner menu, with Raccoon Forks Farms providing some of the ingredients, such as farm fresh eggs and produce. The diner expanded to include a patio in spring 2018.
Raccoon Forks Farms
Raccoon Forks Farms, located at 28770 El Paso Avenue in Redfield, Iowa, sells locally grown, fresh produce and free range eggs through Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions and at retail outlets across Central Iowa. Raccoon Forks has two farms, one in Redfield and another in Runnells, which were established in 2009 and 2014, respectively. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raccoon Forks Foods
Raccoon Forks Foods is a food processing and packaging microbusiness located at 104 South Hazel Avenue in Ames. Its coffee roasting operation, established in spring 2018, provides fresh-roasted coffee bean blends to Optimae cafes and restaurants in Central Iowa. Optimae customers receiving supported employment services at Raccoon Forks Foods use a fluid bed, or air roaster, to automate the bean roasting process, ensuring a consistent, custom flavor profile.
Plain Talk Books and Coffee
Plain Talk Books and Coffee is a coffee shop and bookstore located at 602 East Grand Avenue in Des Moines’ East Village. Established in 2009 as Optimae’s first microbusiness, Plain Talk offers organic coffee and a locally-sourced food menu, as well as a sophisticated selection of new and used books (with unique titles from independent publishers). It also sells records by local musicians and hosts events and live entertainment. The coffee shop recently underwent a comprehensive historic building renovation, adding a patio and expanding its retail space to the second floor.
Brick Street Books and Cafe
Brick Street Books and Cafe is a bookstore and cafe located at 803 Main Street, on the south side of Adel’s historic courthouse square. It has served as a social activity hub in Adel since opening in 2011. Brick Street features popular book titles, organic coffee, a classic cafe menu for breakfast and soups and salads for lunch. Its fresh pastries and baked goods grew so popular, the operation expanded in 2016 with Brick Street Bakery, located on the west side of the courthouse square.
Brick Street Bakery
Brick Street Bakery, located at 109 North Ninth Street on the west side of Adel’s historic courthouse square, opened in 2016 to meet the growing demand for the fresh baked goods and pastries at Brick Street Books and Cafe, as well as Optimae’s other microbusinesses. The building features its own dining room, as well as a patio built from reclaimed city bricks in 2018.