Wytheville’s HOPE Inc. is ready to open its pay-what-you-can restaurant. The Open Door Café will open to the public on Monday, Nov. 5. It is located next door to the HOPE offices on West Main Street in the former Southern Tire store.
The café will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday and an evening meal from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. The café is a wholly owned subsidiary of HOPE Inc. and is Southwest Virginia’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant, serving anyone regardless of his or her ability to pay. It expands the twice-a-week meal program, the Community Food Kitchen.
Chef J.C. Botero, formerly of Graze on Main, will prepare menu items like bacon-wrapped meatloaf, braised pork loin and fried chicken in the café’s full commercial kitchen. The daily menus will change seasonally and are posted on the café website at www.opendoorcafewytheville.org Jessica Woodward will manage the café.
“We are super-excited,” said Andy Kegley, HOPE Inc. executive director. “It took a while longer than we thought, but these things always do.”
Kegley said 36 volunteers have been trained to work at the café, but more volunteers are needed to perform duties like serving food, prepping food and cleaning. Volunteers can sign up on the website.
“This is a bold project because it is donate what you can,” Kegley said, adding that others have called it revolutionary for the town.
The food will be served cafeteria-style. For those who can pay, there is a suggested price of $8, but diners can pay more, less or not at all. For those who cannot pay, there will be an opportunity to volunteer for an hour to help pay for their meal.
“Ideally, we would like them to volunteer that day,” Kegley said, adding diners can help out at the café or at the HOPE Packs food backpack program, which is located in the same building as the café.
If a diner cannot pay or volunteer, meal tokens are available. The tokens are $8 each and will be donated by groups or individuals. Kegley hopes people will donate tokens to the café or give them away as gifts.
“It’s like paying it forward,” he said. “If you can’t pay or volunteer, use a pre-paid token.”
Thanks to a generous donation, the café is already stocked with 75 tokens to be given to those who need them.
“What’s nice is that it all goes back into the mission so we can feed others,” said Mike Pugh, HOPE Packs coordinator.
Kegley said HOPE officials are still working out the logistics of how the café will operate.
“It’s still being figured out. We build this airplane as we fly it,” Kegley said. “We need volunteers and we need donors. The way to be a donor is to be a customer.”
In addition to the daily meals, the café will be open to special events and soon hopes to add $10 take-out meals to its menu. Plans are in the works to add a for-profit, drive-through coffee hut offering coffees, lattes, expresses and more. Proceeds will go to the café.
The café is located 650 W. Main St. The building offers 3,400 square feet of space between Main and Monroe streets. One third of the building on the Monroe Street side houses the kitchen. The middle third is the dining area, where glass-paned garage doors welcome sunlight into the building. Additional seating is available on the patio. The remaining third of the building closest to Main Street is home to the HOPE Packs program, which provides food to students on weekends.
For information, visit www.opendoorcafewytheville.org
The Open Door Café’s Fall Menu:
Monday: bacon wrapped meat loaf, classic mash potatoes, smokey collard greens, veggie soup; mix berry cobbler
Tuesday: Cuban braised chicken and chorizo quesadillas, lime & cilantro sour cream, roasted corn chowder, black bean salsa; roasted apple & cream cheese turn over
Wednesday: roasted pork loin, rosemary roasted red potatoes, pan gravy, steam broccoli; chocolate cake
Thursday: pimento grilled cheese sandwich , pimento cheese, house cured and smoked bacon, charred tomato, on a house made honey and herb foccacia bread,tomato bisque ,grilled veg medley; grape salad
Friday: brined and fried chicken , Alabama BBQ sauce, garlic infused mash potatoes, maple glazed carrots, 3 bean soup: wiffle pop gelato and brownie
Weekday Salad Bar: leafy greens, spring mix, romaine lettuce. Toppings: black olives, bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded carrots, blue cheese crumbles, pickled collard stems, house made croutons, lemon marinated onions, shredded Asiago cheese, diced tomatoes. House-made salad dressings: Ceaser, Ranch, blue cheese, honey and herb balsamic vinaigrette, red wine vinaigrette
To reach Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email email@example.com