During a time when many people are struggling financially, one café is looking to provide a meal to everyone through a pay-as-you-can system.

What You Need To Know

  • A new restaurant is working to provide meals to anyone who walks through its doors.

  • The pay-as-you-can system enables people to pay what they can for their meal.

  • The menu will include recommended pricing for items. 

  • The organization is currently accepting donations. 

​Big Big Table Community Café located at 272 Hudson Street in Buffalo, is preparing to open Western New York's first pay-as-you-can lunchtime restaurant.

"There are people who are unemployed. You know some people are receiving benefits, but some people are still trying to get through the system. And even at that, it's just a huge adjustment," says building owner Jose Cotto.

Grounded in the motto "Everybody eats. Everybody gives. Everybody matters," the board of directors is working to offer nutritious meals, regardless of the person's ability to pay. 

"One of the things that makes our model unique is we will have a literal big, big table in our dining room and no matter whether you pay 20 dollars for your lunch or 20 cents for your lunch, you can be right there eating next to your neighbor. We really want this to be a place that is inclusive," says Board of Director's President Stephanie Smith. 

Menu items will have a suggested donation amount, and non-financial contributions will be encouraged. This all is being made possible thanks to volunteer efforts and donations, as well as strong relationships with local farmers and restaurateurs.  

"There is a community garden right across the street. We're really excited to work with that and see about growing fresh produce and herbs that we can serve at the café," says Smith.

Right as Big Big Table Community Café was about to open, the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York, and plans were thwarted. But the board of directors didn't let go of their dream.

Instead, they worked harder to get ready to open sometime this year and help those who will be suffering from the aftermath of the shutdown. 

"I think all of us have had times when resources are tight, the bank account is low," says Smith. 

A 30-Day GiveGab Campaign is currently underway through June 12th.

This fundraiser will help secure commercial kitchen equipment, so that the cafe can open when it's safe to do so with the pandemic. More information can be found here.