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Customers choose how much to pay at new El Paso café
By: Stephanie Guadian
EL PASO, Texas -- There is a good reason the plates and coffee cups don't match at the new Mustard Seed Community Cafe. They have all been donated. So have the tables, chairs, couches and artwork. Customers find out quickly -- this central El Paso eatery is unique.
Christi Brown is one of three women who founded the eatery.
People come through the door and we tell them we are a pay-what-you-can caf and we mean that, said Christi Brown.
Here's how the non-profit restaurant works: Customers are given a suggested price for a meal. They can pay it, a little extra or just what they can afford. Chef Roman Wilcox said no one is turned away.
We have folks that can't give any money at all. So, we throw an apron on them, they sign their waiver and we have them work for an hour. And they earn their meal. And it's happening, said Roman Wilcox.
Chef Roman and his staff of volunteers cook lunch for some 80 people per day. And with the reduction in government food stamps and cuts to unemployment benefits, that number is expected to grow.
We are not a soup kitchen. Soup kitchens are fantastic and serve a purpose. We serve a different purpose. And we are trying to take care of the food insecure, said Wilcox.
His goal is to bring the community together and alleviate hunger one fabulous dish at a time.
This week we are featuring a street taco. So we did a homemade chicken and bacon adobado. And then we are doing a vegan taco which is going to have kabocha squash, acorn squash and cauliflower. And it's going to have the same adobado on it, said Wilcox.
The cafe even has its own garden. While the menu changes weekly, there are two ingredients the cafe cannot do without volunteers and the community's support. The majority of people stopping by for lunch are paying customers.
They know not only are they having a great meal, they are also paying it forward to help someone who is just having a hard time right now, said Brown.
The cafe is run out of the fellowship hall at First Christian church Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
If you want to learn more about the caf or how you can volunteer, check out http://mustardseedcafe.org/.