She’s set the table for all to enjoy the pleasure of dining out.
“When you dine out with others, you’re participating in community. It’s both an intimate and communal ritual. You get to talk to others, share your story, and really get to know your dining partners. I always wondered, why is that only for people who can afford the experience? That’s what led me to research pay-what-you-can restaurants around the country, and to found A Place at The Table.”
“This is the only pay-what-you-can café in the Triangle. We’re located on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, and we serve breakfast and lunch with different payment options. You can pay the listed price, pay more to cover someone else’s meal, pay less, or volunteer in the café as payment for your meal. The restaurant emphasizes dining with dignity – I’m trying to do my part to give all people access to fresh, healthy food and the camaraderie of dining with others.”
“I don’t know that I’d call myself ‘fearless.’ I’ve simply chosen to follow a path that was shown to me by my number one hero, my mom Shelley. She raised my brother, my sister and I as a single mom. And she set a great example. From the age of about eleven, I was volunteering in our church and in soup kitchens. My mom taught us the importance of doing for others.”
“I just started talking to people about the idea and asked for their help.”
“I started working on this concept just three years ago at the age of 24. I didn’t have fancy marketing tools or videos. I just started talking to people about the idea and asked for their help. I continue to be grateful for many people who to me are definitely fearless. This starts with those who experience poverty or homelessness who visit and volunteer at A Place at The Table. They’re real role models, because they’ve been facing real challenges, and continue to put one foot in front of the other, with smiles on their faces, and kindness in their actions.”
“My heroes see past obstacles and step up to help.”
“Some more of my fearless heroes? Sean Degnan, co-owner of so•ca and bu•ku restaurants. He believed in this project when it was just an idea. We held pop-up meals at his restaurants so we could demonstrate the concept to diners in real time. The people at York Properties are heroes too, because securing a space was our biggest challenge. For three years, other realtors turned us down — because of the fear of ‘undesirable’ clientele. My heroes are people who see past obstacles and step up to help.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has added its support to A Place at the Table, pledging to provide 20 fresh, healthy meals per day for a full year to those in need. Blue Cross NC is also assisting with upfront operational expenses.