SAME Café provides good food for the greater good; creating community through healthy food access.
About five years into their marriage, Brad and Libby Birky decided to move to Denver in 2002. While both found jobs in their respective fields immediately, (Libby was a teacher and Brad a computer consultant) they searched out a place to continue doing the service work they had loved being involved in in IL. They located a place in Denver and signed on to provide food, cook, and spend the evening working, entertaining the residents, and taking care of the place one night each week. They had been doing something similar to this at a homeless shelter in IL so the transition was easy. Except this time, the shelter was smaller and more intimate and they got to see the real faces of poverty.
During these years of service, they noticed that most of the people who came to the missions and homeless shelters had something in common...namely, a broken spirit. Brad and Libby felt that these people needed to have a place where they could come for a meal...and not just any meal, but a healthy, delicious meal that they could choose from a menu and be served with dignity. The meal could be paid for by anonymous donation and if the customer had no money to put into the donation box, they could offer their services in exchange for the meal. Those with financial ability could come in and eat too. They would have the opportunity, not obligation, to help out their neighbors by leaving a little extra for their lunch. It is a community space for those who wanted to help and those who need help.
After much research, Brad went to culinary school and Libby learned how to hurdle mountains of red tape. They invested all of their life savings and retirement money into the restaurant that finally opened on October 20, 2006. It is a special place for people who need a little help and for people who want to help. Any one is welcome to come and eat a delicious, organic, healthy meal leaving a donation for what they feel their meal is worth. It is a community space that is diverse and healthy!
This sustainable, organic lunch spot offers locally grown food to all who walk through their doors regardless of their ability to pay. Their motto is: "Good food for the greater good."
In the autumn of 2006, recognizing the need to provide healthy and organic food to those who may not be able to provide it for themselves, Brad and Libby Birky opened SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe. Their hope then as it is today is to create an environment where people of various backgrounds can eat together, and contribute to the successful operation either financially or to participate in its running.
Now, well into this adventure, SAME Cafe continues to fulfill that need. Not only do they feed people a nutritious meal, they are also providing on the job training for people who do not have skills needed to obtain basic restaurant employment.
When the service was first offered, an average day was 30 meals. Currently, they can easily feed in excess of one hundred meals daily. The cafe has expanded to include additional dining space, but the only additional staff member added to respond to the growing demand was a kitchen manager. The rest of the staffing hours are manned by volunteers.
In 2017, SAME Cafe hired Brad Reubendale as the Executive Director and Tisha Steele as the Chef & Operations Director to allow Brad & Libby Birky a much needed rest after running the Cafe for nearly 11 years. The leadership has changed, but the mission is the same at SAME Cafe: to feed everyone, regardless of ability to pay and to create community through healthy food access.
As I write this, I am sitting in your cafe using your free wi-fi. I thought this might be a good time to write to say "thank you."
I have been enjoying your meals these past many weeks and realize every day that I dine here, that I would not have a meal to eat if it were not for The SAME Cafe. It has been a pleasure to eat here. The food is better than expected and the cafe allows me to retain some of my dignity that is lost whenever I have to eat the free meals offered by the local churches or non-profit groups. I especially appreciate the opportunity to sit in a restaurant and not on the sidewalk.
Recently, I have begun to use the cafe to work. I now bring my laptop to access the internet and post my blogs or update my personal webpage. I also use it to apply for jobs, but have given up hope with that. So, now I write. The free wi-fi has really helped. I had been using a friend's wireless account, but his account is now temporarily closed due to lack of payment. Your public wi-fi allows me to stay current with my email, write another article, or send out a few more electronic job applications. Thank you for this service also.
Well, it is time for me to get another bowl of soup or another slice of pizza. This lunch has to last me until tomorrow's lunch.