Friday, August 29, 2008

Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words...

While I was visiting my parents in Denver back in July, my Mom and I, along with Calvin, made a special trip to visit the SAME Cafe. I first read about this unique restaurant in Cooking Light a few months earlier and I was immediately intrigued. (Read my original blog post about it here.) Here's a quick recap of what makes the SAME Cafe so unique:
  • SAME stands for "So All May Eat"
  • There are no set prices
  • Patrons pay what they can afford for their meal or they get their food in exchange for 1 hour of work at the restaurant
  • Nearly all the food is made from fresh, local ingredients
  • The cafe is run by a husband/wife team, Brad and Libby, who both have full-time jobs outside of the restaurant!

When we first arrived at the Cafe, I was surprised by just how small it was. There were maybe 8 or 9 tables, along with a tiny, open-air kitchen, all crammed into one space. Thankfully, a table opened up just after we arrived. Then it took us a few minutes to figure out the "system." We were greeted by this lovely menu just inside the front door:

From there, we told one of the kitchen workers what we wanted and, here's the clincher, we also told him the exact portions we wanted. What an absurdly simple way to cut down on costs and eliminate excess waste! (They encourage patrons to only take what they think they can eat, then return for seconds if they'd like more.) My Mom and I had little servings of each of the pizzas and salads:

I must admit, though, that while the food was good, it wasn't quite as spectacular as I had hoped. Upon reading in Cooking Light that one of the owners was a chef, I kind of had prepared myself to be wowed by the food, so I was a little disappointed. But here's the thing--though I wasn't as "wowed" by the food as I had originally hoped, I was encouraged and blessed in exceeding amounts by this unassuming restaurant in many other ways. The SAME Cafe has succeeded in establishing community and fellowship in a way that is surely a rare sight in our modern culture. Mom and I observed people from all different economic backgrounds, races, and walks of life bustling in and out of the SAME Cafe's tiny space, talking with one another, eating with one another, and becoming involved in one another's lives. I also witnessed just how engaged the owners are with their patrons. They go above and beyond simply "welcoming" their customers. During our entire lunch, I don't think I saw Brad (one of the owners) in one place for more than a few minutes--he not only personally talked with each and every patron, but he spent a great deal of time engaging with a group of counter-culture guys by the bike rack on the sidewalk.

I don't know Brad and Libby personally, but as a Christian, I see very clearly that the SAME Cafe is a ministry. They have created a safe-haven where all are welcome. They are providing food for those who can't afford to eat, and yet they uphold people's dignity while doing so. They are passionately facilitating community, which is something our hearts desperately long for in a culture that is often so disengaged. And also, they are concerned with being good stewards of not only their resources, but also the environment, too. Thank you Brad and Libby.

What more could I possibly say, except that if you're ever in the Denver area, go check it out for yourself! Oh, and also, check out this little dude enjoying his pizza:

1 comment:

Tracie said...

Thanks for the post. I have never heard about this restaurant! I will have to go there if I am ever in the area.

Your new colors/design for your blog look great by the way!