Imagine a restaurant where everyone can afford to eat because they pay whatever they can. That’s what a group of El Paso women is trying to start up in our community as a way to bring the entire community, whether rich or poor together. But they do need your help.
There’s something cooking in Christi Brown’s kitchen. But it’s not on the stove. Christi and two of her friends have been meeting there every week for the past eight months in hopes of starting up the Mustard Seed Community Café, a restaurant where people pay what they can.
“We’re excited to create a place where El Pasoans can come together and where everyone can eat,” said Christi, the founder and president of the Mustard Seed Community Café.
Those who cannot pay for their meal at the Mustard Seed Community Café will not get it entirely free. They will be required to put some time in the kitchen, while at the same time learning some valuable skills. “A big part of that is to give job training to people so that they are ready to maybe move into the food service industry or other areas of employment as well,” said Christi.
The idea of a community café is the brain child of Denise Cerreta, who started up a community cafe in Salt Lake City nine years ago and also founded the non-profit organization One World Everybody Eats.
Since then, about 20 more such cafes have opened. And that includes Soul Kitchen, which rocker Jon Bon Jovi opened in his home state of New Jersey.
The ladies, who are hoping to open the café in the next nine months, are missing one main ingredient. “Right now, our primary goal is to find a location, a place to call our own,” said Christi.
“Our hope is that we’ll find a restaurant-ready kitchen and if not, we’re going to need everything,” said Mustard Seed secretary treasurer Shelley Speicher
They’re also hoping to have a community garden either at the restaurant or nearby, where they’ll be able to grow the vegetables they’ll serve in the restaurant. “It is going to be healthy, wholesome, delicious food,” said Shelley.
In order to get the cafe up and running, the group needs financial contributions to offset their start up expenses.
“The neat thing about the café is that it will be self-sustaining by the revenue it makes so it’s not something that we will continually be going to people to say, ‘Help us’,” said Christi.
While they’ve also received donations of plates, silverware and kitchen utensils, they cannot take larger donations until they have the restaurant location in place. “We are taking smaller items because we have space for them in our home. We aren’t taking the larger ones yet,” said Shelley. “If there are people who want to donate those, we would suggest you go to our website and fill out the interest sheet that’s one there.”
The women say the Mustard Seed Community Café is something everyone in El Paso can contribute to and they’re asking you to step up. “Whoever has a small inkling to get involved to do so. That everybody has something to contribute,” said Shelley.
There will be two paid positions at the Mustard Seed Café: the chef and the general manager. The rest of the staff is expected to be made up solely of volunteers. If you’d like to help out in any way with the café fill out the interest sheet found on their website. This wil help them see what kind of volunteers and donations they have to work with and get organized.