Denver Cafe Goes With Pay-What-You-Can Approach

DENVER (CBS News) – There is a place where Laura from the cupcake shop, Sean who lives in his car, and Lisa homeless and looking for work, can meet for lunch: the SAME Café.

Its name is also its mission: So All May Eat.

CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports the rules are a little different. Pick what you want from the menu. Pay what you can into the donation box. If you don’t have any money, you can always volunteer — just step into the kitchen and work for your meal.

Libby and Brad Birky combined their life savings with a desire to help and opened the SAME café.

“In the beginning if we fed one person who needed it,” Libby said. “It was worth it for us.”

Well balanced meals come with a side of pride from this former teacher.

“A lot of people have jobs to make a living, and we feel like we have this job to make a life,” Libby said.

With help from volunteers, they’ve served 35,000 meals in more than three years.

“It gives people a lot of hope that they’re respected someplace in life and this is it,” said Carol Saloranta, a volunteer.

Fundraising and grants supplement the donations. The daily take was all of $287.23 on the day CBS News was there.

“How do you measure what you’ve done with your day, because it certainly isn’t in dollars and cents,” Petersen asked.

“No, definitely not in dollars and cents,” Libby said. “I think it’s in people who hug me on the way out the door.”

Somehow, they make enough, serve enough, to keep the restaurant and their hearts — open.

Additional Resources: The SAME Cafe has been open since October 2006 at 2023 E. Colfax Ave. Visit their Web site SoAllMayEat.com for more information.

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