Word of Mouth

Community Cafe is bringing the pay-what-you-want model to Boulder

Pay-what-you-want is coming to Boulder. A new cafe modeled after Denver's SAME Cafe is in the works with the operating name Community Cafe and a guiding philosophy of "giving back, giving forward."

Sandy Robinson, the brains behind the restaurant, says two things inspired her to pursue the pay-what-you-want model: a visit to Brad and Libby Birky's SAME Cafe at 2023 East Colfax Avenue and a magazine article about pay-what-you-want's Denise Cerreta, and her One World Everybody Eats restaurant in Salt Lake City. "As I was looking at the article, I just felt electric and started to shake a little bit even, and I thought, I'm supposed to do this here in Boulder," recalls Robinson.

That was about two years ago. Fast forward to now. Robinson has been meeting with a small group of similarly interested Boulder residents to put together a plan. She has a realtor scouting locations, and she's also hard at work raising funds. "I'm the tin man looking for the scarecrow looking for the lion," she says, laughing.

What will set the Community Cafe apart from its brethren -- which, in addition to SAME Cafe, includes the soon-to-be-opened Comfort Cafe and Cafe 180, both in Denver -- will be its emphasis on education, Robinson explains.

"It's going to be, 'Where did this food come from? What farm did it come from? How can we reduce waste?'. I'm really looking at the educational aspect of it, and really hope to be inspiring and supportive." Robinson hopes to launch evening classes at the restaurant on topics ranging from composting to interviewing skills.

Community Cafe will also, obviously, be about food. A chef for more than 20 years, Robinson says she has "worked every aspect of the food industry," including owning a catering business in New York and serving as chef for the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda.

She has specialized knowledge about cooking for people with dietary restrictions and hopes to put that to good use at the new restaurant. She has cooked for people with cancer, diabetes and those with other strict dietary regimens.

Robinson is hesitant to commit to an opening date at this stage, but her enthusiasm is clear. "I would like to be open this morning. I am so anxious to cook for people. That is my passion, to bring people together around food."

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