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Downtown Raleigh nonprofit cafe reopens with new format

The pay-what-you-can cafe is reopening on Saturday with a few changes.

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A Place at the Table
Kathy Hanrahan, Out
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Downtown Raleigh's first pay-what-you-can cafe, A Place At The Table, is reopening on Saturday with a few changes.

The restaurant, which has served more than 53,000 free meals since opening in January 2018, previously allowed guests to volunteer their time at the cafe in lieu of payment. With volunteering not an option now, the restaurant will now require guests seeking free meals to "pay" with a token. Nonprofit Oak City Cares will have tokens for those dealing with food insecurity.

“Oak City Cares will have an endless supply of tokens for any who need it so that they may visit and request a meal anytime, and they also have many other resources to support our most vulnerable population with food, housing, medical care and more,” Founder and Executive Director Maggie Kane said. “We believe this solution will enable us to continue to address the hunger need in downtown Raleigh, which remains our first and foremost priority, while also creating a more sustainable take-out operation for all of our guests, including those with tokens and customers who choose to pay $3 or full price.”

Families with children will be able to receive a full meal without tokens or questions asked, Kane said.

Prior to March and the coronavirus pandemic, about 60 percent of diners paid full price for their meals. The remaining customers paid less or not at all for their meals, instead opting to volunteer at the restaurant for their meal.

Since the pandemic, 99 percent of customers at A Place at the Table have received free meals. Kane said the new format will meet guests needs "while staying true to our model and mission which relies on community support and paying customers.”

A Place at the Table will be open Wednesday through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for take-out only. Call ahead orders are encouraged.

A new menu was introduced in August when the restaurant doubled its size by expanding into the neighboring space. The full kitchen allowed Chef Andrew Gravens to create a new full breakfast and lunch menu.

And for Thanksgiving, Gravens' pies will be available for pre-order.

A Place at the Table is currently trying to raise $50,000 by Dec. 1 to provide 5,000 meals to the community.


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