Nestled along the busy streets of Downtown Raleigh lies a one-of-a-kind cafe serving up a side of kindness. A Place At The Table has been bringing good food and good community to the area for three years.
Executive Director Maggie Kane says the mission is to help any and all who come through their doors.
“Our mission is community and good food for all, regardless of means. And we do it through a pay-what-you-can model. So that means all of our prices are suggested prices, so some people can pay that price, some people pay more, some people pay less. And some people pay through volunteering.”
A Place At The Table is only the second pay-what-you-can restaurant in North Carolina. The only other one is their mentor, F.A.R.M. Cafe located in Boone.
After graduating in 2013 and working for a day shelter in Raleigh, Kane saw a need in the City of Oaks for a place that feeds the community physically while bringing people together socially.
“I saw that they were craving a place where they felt seen and heard, and then also a place where they had choice. So I wanted to create a place that welcomed everyone. Where everyone could come together and have a good, chef-prepared meal of choice.”
Her vision goes beyond a meal. A Place At The Table takes a unique hand up approach with their volunteering opportunities.
“Pre-COVID days, people could volunteer for their meal. So anytime they wanted, they could come in and order whatever they wanted and volunteer for their meal.”
They also had volunteers who signed up online as well as weekly volunteers. Kane says that their staff is awesome, but that A Place At The Table is mainly volunteer run.
Before COVID, they saw about 90-100 volunteers a day! And know that once it is safe to do so, there will be volunteer opportunities again.
Although challenges have risen during COVID, the community has also risen to the occasion.
“COVID has been hard for sure, but we have stayed open because of this incredible community. They have not let us go away; they will continue to support us. We are really really fortunate that this community has truly stepped up and said ‘A Place At The Table is not going anywhere and how can we help.’ So, the number one way that people can help is by ordering a meal here.”
Ask anyone and they will tell you the food is worth the trip. But what makes A Place At The Table so special is the community they are building each day.
“It means a lot. I love it. It’s a godsend to people who are homeless or anything. You can come here and get something for free. There’s not too many places that do that. And the food is good. It’s exceptional,” says DJ Johnson.
“What I like about A Place At The Table is that they are a pay-what-you-can cafe. That’s the reason why I like coming here so much. That’s what I like about the atmosphere and I know mostly everybody that works here. They got good food too,” says Clarence Williams.
A Place At The Table isn’t just good for the body, it is good for the soul. Kane encourages everyone to visit and get some good food and good fellowship.
“Whether you’re dining here, donating, volunteering, walking up curbside, you get to take part in making this mission happen every single day. And so if you are searching for a community, if you are searching for a place for a good meal, we’re your spot. And you will be welcomed regardless of means.”
To learn more about their mission, visit their website, www.tableraleigh.org