Above, Café Ray poses with mom Kelsey Campos and her children, Isiah and Natalia, who are students at Danube Avenue Elementary School, and baby Abigail.

McDonald’s has Ronald McDonald.

KFC has the Colonel.

Café LA Ray is flanked by School Board Member Kelly Gonez, left, and Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian at an event at Byrd Middle School.

And now, L.A. Unified, has Café LA Ray.

Wearing sunglasses and a permanent smile, Café LA Ray is the new mascot of the Food Services Division. Comfortable with both students and adults, he’s helping to promote and market new menu items and programs during appearances in classroom and at school events. He even chatted with School Board Member Kelly Gonez and Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian Friday during a visit to Byrd Middle School, one of three sites set up to feed students whose schools were closed this week by wildfires.

“Café LA Ray is dedicated to turning someone’s gray day to a sunny day,” said Dawn Soto, the senior training specialist in Food Services. “He can serve up meals, pump up a crowd, bring light and happiness to students and teachers, while at the same time standing on one foot and sporting his cool sunglasses.”

Soto held auditions for Café LA Ray, looking for candidates with a sunny disposition and skills like waving, jumping, giving high-fives and even moon-walking. She wound up with a couple of Rays, each of whom is adept at getting kids and parents excited about the District’s myriad meal programs. Just who is behind the sunny mask, however, remains a mystery.

“Food Services has its own marketing design, complete with name and colors,” said Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn. “We adopted the name ‘Café LA’ several years ago and developed our own unique logo. Because most of our schools are elementary schools serving younger students, it simply made sense for us to create a mascot that might appeal to our younger students.

“I challenged my training staff to develop a mascot utilizing our logo and colors, and thus ‘Café LA Ray’ was born,” Vaughn said. “I am very excited to see the reaction of these students when Ray makes an appearance. I think he is going to be a huge success!”

To arrange for Café LA Ray to visit your school, email dawn.soto@lausd.net.

Click here to watch a KLCS-TV video on Café LA Ray.