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GiGi’s Playhouse


When Nancy Gianni’s daughter GiGi was born with Down syndrome, Nancy made a promise that she would change the way the world looked at people with the diagnosis. Today that promise is a reality. Nancy is the founder and chief belief officer of GiGi’s Playhouse, a Down syndrome-focused community made up of 48 playhouses across the U.S. and Mexico. Each playhouse provides free educational, therapeutic-based and career development programs for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community.

While some programs are run by licensed therapists, 99% of the playhouse programs are run by volunteers. Programming includes literacy, math, fitness, and motor skills, but outside of these hard skills, children learn how to socialize with their peers and gain self esteem at the same time.

As the GiGi’s Playhouse model evolved, the organization built its first café and retail center adjacent to the Hoffman Estates playhouse location outside of Chicago, IL. Affectionately named Hugs and Mugs, this café along with its sister locations offers GiGi University graduates an eighteen-week internship opportunity where they learn customer service, sales, logistics, and fulfillment skills. Each area of focus is intended to help young adults with Down syndrome develop résumés and skills to succeed in future employment opportunities. And that’s where Revel steps in to help.

iPad POS | GiGi’s Playhouse

The Revel Challenge

Simplified setup and operations

Controlling the café menu through a centralized management console makes ongoing updates a breeze. For example, menus are intentionally built with simple, easy-to-add modifiers. These modifiers can be updated across locations in seconds based on feedback from the interns and customers.

User-friendly, familiar technology

Revel’s iPad-based platform mirrors the look and feel of the phones many interns already use, and therefore the interface is comfortable and familiar to navigate. Clare explains that the user-friendly technology, paired with Apple’s powerful iOS operating system, has been one of the biggest wins resulting from the switch.

GiGi's Playhouse employees

The Revel Solution

Revel’s purpose-built features for both retail and quick service verticals made it a perfect fit for their needs.

Because GiGi’s retail and café locations are volunteer-lead operations, simplified management of these features was essential. Revel’s employee management features, like the ability to assign roles and permissions to employees based on function or seniority with a single click, help create a frictionless operation. These management capabilities, paired with user-friendly technology, made Revel the right point of sale (POS) for GiGi's Playhouse.

After we switched over to Revel, we noticed the platform was much more effective for [intern’s] dexterity skills. Revel’s iPad interface is excellent for them because it’s very visual and more effective for their sensory skills than using a keyboard.
-Clare Mitchell, Chief Technology Officer, GiGi's Playhouse

Why Revel

Building on GiGi University, the Hugs and Mugs 300-hour career training program gives interns the opportunity to continue developing new and existing skills. When an internship concludes, program graduates receive referrals to volunteer and employment opportunities based on their strengths and interests. Revel is proud to play a small part in the hands-on training and skill building forged through purchases made in GiGi’s Hugs and Mugs locations.

Current and future graduates are living success stories of Nancy Gianni’s original vision, and to date, the team at GiGi’s Playhouse has graduated over 25 interns from their extensive educational program.