Raleigh Opens its First “Pay What You Can” Restaurant

A small new community was started on January 8, 2018 when a “Pay What You Can” restaurant opened on 300 W Hargett Street. A Place at the Table opened by NC State graduate Maggie Kane, is a place for people of all different backgrounds to come and enjoy a hot and healthy meal.

“A Place at the Table,” is Raleigh’s first “Pay What You Can” restaurant. What the name entails is that you can pay the “suggested” price for the meal, pay a little extra, pay for a meal forward (paying for someone else’s meal), or volunteer your time for a meal. “A Place at the Table” is part of the “One World Everybody Eats,” movement, which is an umbrella group for the sixty “Pay What You Can Restaurants.” The idea is not to “provide handouts,” said Stephanie Rayney, a board member for “A Place at the Table.” “We call it a hand-up. So a soup kitchen has, just what it sounds like, a simple meal, probably soup, and you go through the line. We are breaking down socioeconomic boundaries because we’re going to have people of all walks of life eating together whereas at a soup kitchen you will probably find it’s a little more homogenous.”

So, with the opening of this restaurant, a few questions come to mind. First and foremost, how does a restaurant like this run? Well, the restaurant estimates that the eighty percent of people that are able to pay for their meal will make up for the twenty percent of customers that cannot pay for some or any of their meal. Donations from customers will also help keep the eatery stable. The second question is, what type of food is served? At “A Place at the Table,” food for almost any diet restriction is available. The Cafe is open from 7a.m. to 2p.m. Monday through Saturday, so breakfast and lunch is served. There is plenty of variety on the menu, such as “Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes,” and “Pulled Pork Panini’s.”

However, the mission of “ A Place at the Table,” is about more than just providing healthy and delicious food. The mission of this establishment is to “provide community and healthy food for all regardless of means.” This means that regardless of who they are feeding, whether it be a lawyer, or a homeless man, they are dedicated to letting these people leave with a full feeling in their stomachs. Their vision is that “we will be a welcoming and inviting space that provides an opportunity for all people to come and experience conversation and community while enjoying an excellent, fresh, and healthy meal. People long for a community, a place to fit in, a place to feel welcome, and a place to be a part of something bigger than just themselves.” It is admirable that we have people like Maggie Kane, founder of “A Place at the Table,” so close to home. In addition to all the volunteers, directors, and table staff that help in sustaining “A Place at the Table.”

Hopefully this article has persuaded you to go and check out “A Place at the Table,” in Raleigh; I know I will be soon. Visiting is more than just the delicious food they serve; it is about making everyone feel welcome and to build a sense of community in our up-and-coming city of Raleigh. Thank you to Maggie Kane and all of the employees of “A Place at the Table,” who have transformed a restaurant to feel like a home.

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