After two years on the 16th Street Mall, the curbside outpost of Cafe 180 has closed. You could eat at Cafe 180's bright-green stand at 16th and Arapahoe streets more cheaply than just about anywhere on the mall — or all downtown, for that matter — with salads, wraps and soups for under $5 and a full box lunch for $10. The flat fee went to fund the pay-what-you-can-model exemplified by Cafe 180 in Englewood, at 3315 South Broadway, which itself was inspired by the pioneering SAME Cafe.
"At the café, we don’t have any set prices for our meals — people can eat regardless of what they can pay," says Cafe 180 executive director Sarah Lesyinski. Diners can also volunteer an hour of their time in lieu of payment, or give a little extra for their food to pay the kindness forward. That restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
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Lesyinsky says the board that controls the Cafe 180 nonprofit decided to focus more of its efforts in Englewood, and so closed the satellite. "We're doing other job training and housing programs out of the café now, so that's where we wanted to put our focus," she says. To that end, Cafe 180 is partnering with a local task force to help the homeless find emergency housing. "We are going to be the location to give out vouchers on Saturdays for days the weather is severe," Lesyinsky says.
The kiosk that Cafe 180 had occupied was previously home to Casa Cuba and a barbecue shack; now Wikipita is planning on moving from its cart down the street into the space. Wikipita co-owner/operator Leah Gal says the group will be able to expand its offerings in the kiosk, which it hopes to move into next months.