The region’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant is expected to open in January of 2017 in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.
Knead Community Café is modeled after similar facilities around the country that offer meals in exchange for donations or volunteer time.
Mary and Kevin Bode, cofounders of the café, said they wanted to renovate the $64,000 building with the hopes that it would spur revitalization in the city’s downtown.
“Our main mission is to create community and bring community back,” Mary Bode said. “We’re bringing and blending people together and that’s how we feel that we help maybe a hurting town, a community, everything.”
Regarding their investment in the building’s renovation, Kevin Bode said “We could have opened the doors and started operating, but we wanted to make a statement. We really think this is something that’s going to draw people into New Kensington and really spur development.”
In the past 40 years, New Kensington’s population dropped by nearly 8,000 residents. Once home to Alcoa, the city lost a number of businesses as manufacturing left. According to the New Kensington Redevelopment Authority, 175 structures in disrepair have been demolished in the past nine years.
The café website declares “Knead Community Café located in downtown New Kensington is committed to serving healthy dining options using fresh, local, and minimally processed ingredients as much as possible. We believe that all patrons are entitled to enjoy nutritious food and be treated with dignity regardless of their ability to pay. We are a non-profit community run and supported restaurant where people can break bread over a delicious meal. By giving the opportunity to take care of each other, we are making an investment in our neighborhoods and this world. Our hope that the café will be a place where strangers become friends and also promote a sense of goodwill among neighbors.”