Peg Botto: Owner, Cosmic Catering LLC
Family Focus Media is proud to recognize Peg Botto with a Women of Influence Award.
The Family Focus Media Women of Influence Awards are designed to acknowledge and amplify the influence exceptional local women have in our Community, showcasing their accomplishments and encouraging others to follow their example. Through their efforts, these influencers have demonstrated the power to shape attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors on a large scale.
“Peg Botto is the founder and owner of Cosmic Cafe in Boathouse Row, Fairmount Park. Peg runs a health-focused cafe with locally-sourced foods made from scratch. Ten percent of her proceeds go to support Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. However, the main reason that I am nominating her is that Peg has consistently employed adult participants from Horizon House’s Developmental Services Division; these individuals have developmental disorders such as autism, Down’s syndrome, etc. She has given them jobs and an opportunity to enrich themselves in society. This has given them confidence to make life choices. She is not just a manager but a friend and trusted confidant in their lives. Peg has a background in Human Services as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional and has carried that experience with her in the food business. In a world where most people are in a rush to maximize their own individual situations, Peg is uplifting others and doing so with great humility.” – Sharon Jayakumar
Peg Botto, the founder of Cosmic Catering, joined two of her passions by opening a restaurant and hiring people with development differences. Early in her career, she became a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional to run adult group homes. Many years later, she went back to school and got a culinary arts degree. “My culinary experience began with selling fresh, from scratch, organic food at festivals, to running a stand at a farmers market and culminated with the opening of Cosmic Cafe. I started to hire people with developmental disabilities at the farmers market because I knew from my previous work that there were so many people that needed jobs that were generally not included in the workforce,” Peg says. “Seeing how so many of my employees have grown has driven me to expand our program as much as possible. It also led to the creation of the Cosmic Foundation to assure that the work can continue.”
Hard Work and Giving Back
Peg believes that everyone should be treated equally and given an opportunity to grow. “I don’t think anyone should be hungry. We live in a world of plenty,” she says. “I feed and clothe some of our local unhoused people. They also sometimes need warm clothing or new shoes. I support the rowing community, donate food to St. John’s Hospice, and offer jobs to people in the community that are struggling.”
Point of Pride
Peg knew that opening a cafe on Boathouse Row would be a risk, but it was one she was willing to take. “The first hurdle was winning the bid with the city. The second was converting the kitchen as the previous owner sold snacks and hot dogs out of the space. The third was introducing people to a menu that was farm fresh; organic turkey burgers, tofu burritos and housemade juices,” Peg says. “The risk paid off. We have been in operation at the cafe for 12 years and expanded my mission from one employee to currently 15 employees with developmental differences.”