By Vittoria Woodill
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new local café invites people to pay what they can. Today was the grand opening of a grand gesture in West Philadelphia: EAT Café.
“Today we are cutting through any kind of boundary that can exist between those that are hungry and those who can afford to pay for it,” said Mariana Chilton, a professor at Drexel University.
EAT Café stands for Everyone At the Table. All are invited in for a seat and a fine meal, with a mission to close the poverty lines as tightly as the distance between one another across the table.
“You want to grab something to eat and talk. We say it like it’s not a big deal, but not everyone can say that,” said Samantha Elliott Krepps of Giant Foods. “No one will be turned away or made to feel less if they are unable to pay.”
Here you can pay the suggested amount of your meal, which is $15 for three courses, or you can pay less, pay more, “as well as pay the best you can,” said Donnell Jones-Craven, general manager of EAT Café. “We hope if you don’t have it to pay, you’ll be compelled to. You can pay it forward.”
EAT Café is a collaboration with the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University, Vetri Community Partnership, and the greater West Philadelphia community. But for all involved opening, EAT Café wasn’t about the bottom line.
“This decision wasn’t made from a business standpoint at all. It was made from the heart,” said Jeff Benjamin, COO Vetri Family.
“You want to make happy happen,” said Marc Verti, CEO of Vetri Family. “That’s exactly what it’s all about. It’s not about making the most amazing thing, having the most incredible thing. It’s about making people happy.”
The money raised by those who pay go right back into the restaurant to keep it going.
EAT Café is at 3820 Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. It’s open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 4:30pm to 8:00pm. Find out more eatcafe.org.