Perception and reality can sometimes be two different things. When it comes to money, that can be a problem.

You’ve probably had this happen: you’re thinking you’ve had a pretty good month, then you get your credit card bill and you get an unpleasant surprise. Somehow, you’d totally forgotten this was the month the dishwasher broke, you had to take your dog to the emergency vet, and you’re not doing nearly as well financially as you were thinking just 5 minutes ago.

The same kind of thing can happen with a business. When you’re running a restaurant, even a minimal gap between financial perception and reality can spell serious trouble.

Restaurants run on small profit margins – often as little as 2%. So, staying informed about multiple expenses like food, laundry, staff, and invoices, as well as knowing how you’re doing day to day with multiple revenue streams like reservations, delivery, and your bar program, is essential for staying in business.

But whether you’re a chef, or you run a restaurant because you love hospitality, collecting and analyzing data is probably not high on the list of things you enjoy, or are good at. That’s why Daniel Meth created an AI tool for restaurants that does all that. It’s called Ingest.

Daniel Meth, if you're a chef not a business person, AI-powered Ingest can step in

Daniel Meth, if you’re a chef not a business person, his AI-powered Ingest can step in

Owning a restaurant or a coffee shop is one of those aspirational dreams people sometimes muse about. However, most of us don’t dream about working in a restaurant or coffee shop. Being a server, a barista, or working in a kitchen is not most people’s idea of having made it.

But for some of the folks who work at Dragonfly Café on Jackson Avenue, getting to do this kind of work provides coveted access to a regular life most of us take for granted.

Dragonfly Café is part of Raphael Village, an organization dedicated to differently-abled adults. The café provides internships for members of The Guild, an adult day program that offers vocational and post-secondary educational opportunities to differently-abled adults. Guild members interning at Dragonfly Café learn vocational skills that can lead to work in the food and service industries, both in the front and back of house.

The founder and Executive Director of Raphael Village is Jackie Case.

Jackie Case turned her back on architecture and instead built the empowering Raphael Village for differently abled adults

Jackie Case turned her back on architecture and instead built the empowering Raphael Village for differently abled adults

Even as leaps in technology like Daniel’s AI tool push us ever-closer to an error-free, perfect world, it’s work like Jackie is doing at Raphael Village that reminds us it’s our imperfections that make us human.

Efficiency and profit are important. But so too is leading a purposeful and enriching life. Both ends of that scale are equally essential. Daniel and Jackie’s contributions from both ends of the scale taken together, literally create a work-life balance.

Daniel Meth, Jackie Case, Peter Ricchiuti, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Daniel Meth, Jackie Case, Peter Ricchiuti, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur .