This brunch does more than just serve up good food

The nonprofit A Place at the Table wants those who are hungry not to worry about how they’ll pay for a healthy meal.

The organization is close to announcing the location for Raleigh’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant. It will have a variety of ways for people to pay for their food, from a suggested donation to volunteering time at the cafe to pay for their meal.

“And then people will have the opportunity to pay more, so that’s your way to pay it forward and buy someone else’s meal,” said executive director Maggie Kane.

In the meantime, the organization, founded in 2015, is continuing to host Second Saturday pop-up brunches. The next one is Saturday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at, 2130 Clark Ave., Raleigh, in Cameron Village.

The premise of the brunch is similar to the one that will be at the restaurant. People can come to the brunch, order off the restaurant’s menu and pay whatever they’re able to.

The brunches have been a key part of the organization’s way to introduce the concept to the city. The model estimates that 80 percent of the diners will be able to subsidize the 20 percent who can’t pay for some or any of their meal.

The events launched last year and have attracted 250 to 350 people. They have been held on a monthly basis since March. Last month’s brunch at 18 Seaboard showed Kane and her board of directors and advisers that the model can work.

“We had about 200 people that could pay or pay more, and then about 40 or 50 people that couldn’t pay anything,” Kane said.

Stephanie Raney, a board member for A Place at the Table, said the concept differs from a soup kitchen.

“We’re definitely not in the business of providing a handout,” Raney said. “We call it a hand up. So a soup kitchen has, just what it sounds like, a simple meal, probably soup, you go through the line. We are breaking down socioeconomic boundaries, because we’re going to have people of all walks of life eating together, whereas at a soup kitchen you’ll probably find it’s a little more homogeneous.”

Another brunch is scheduled Aug. 12 at Nofo at the Pig on Glenwood Avenue.

A Place at the Table is part of the One World Everybody Eats Movement, an umbrella group for the 60 pay-what-you-can cafes across the country. Its founder received the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award this May.


Leah Moore contributed.

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov