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SAME Cafe Extends Meal Service for the Hard-Hit and Hungry

Outside SAME Cafe on East Colfax Avenue, staff and volunteers are providing lunches, coffee and tea.EXPAND
Outside SAME Cafe on East Colfax Avenue, staff and volunteers are providing lunches, coffee and tea.
Mark Antonation

SAME Cafe adopted its mission of "So All May Eat" back in 2006, and the organization is even more committed to that mission as uncertainty and job layoffs begin to hit Denver because of the coronavirus spread.

The cafe, located at 2023 East Colfax Avenue, is under the same restrictions as the rest of Colorado restaurants and bars, so the dining area is closed for at least thirty days from March 17 (by state mandate) and up to May 11 (according to City of Denver guidelines). But kitchens are still allowed to prepare meals for pick-up and delivery, so chef Letisha Steele and executive director Brad Reubendale, along with staff and volunteers, are providing pay-what-you-can lunches from the sidewalk patio from 11 a.m. to at least 4 p.m. (an extension of regular hours) every Monday through Saturday until further notice.

Steele points out that they're closing the walk-up counter inside the cafe, since it's right in front of the open kitchen where food is prepared. "We need to keep our staff healthy. too," she states.

If you go, you're likely to see Reubendale pouring coffee or tea from portable dispensers (provided by Pablo's Coffee and Teatulia, respectively) and handing out bagged lunches. Yesterday it was corned beef and cabbage with garlic mashed potatoes, Irish soda bread and salad (there was also a vegan Irish stew available), and the rest of the week will see Thai curry grain bowls and a hearty three-bean chili. "We served 27 lunches in the first hour we were open," Reubendale says. "That's more than most normal days."

Steele says that she's already hearing from friends in the industry who are being laid off or having hours drastically reduced. "Anybody you know in the restaurant industry, let them know we're open so they can come in for at least one meal," she notes, adding that she understands the importance of the shutdown, even if it becomes difficult for many. "Everyone in Colorado loves to go out and eat and share that experience, and it's scary being told you can't do that. I just hope everyone in the industry stays safe and makes it through this."

Reubendale says he's concerned about the incoming flow of donations, especially since the annual So All May Eat Gala fundraiser has been postponed from this Thursday until June 25, so he's hoping folks will still be willing to donate time or money to the organization. SAME Cafe takes food donations, too; see the guidelines on the cafe's website. And you can also purchase tokens at the cafe to give to those in need so they can redeem them for a free lunch.

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