A Texas couple have opened a new restaurant that offers a pay-what-you-can model. Taste Community Restaurant targets middle class people struggling to get by with excellent food at an affordable price. “Specifically,” Taste Community chef and co-founder Julie Williams told Dallas Morning News, “the missing middle 90 percent of the hungry who are not homeless and don’t qualify for government assistance. They might be choosing between food and medical bills or medication, be a single parent trying to make ends meet, be between jobs.” To serve this community, Julie and her husband Jeff founded the Taste Project, the 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports the restaurant.
Guests at the Taste Community Restaurant are greeted with a warmly lit space, a friendly staff, 80 percent of whom are volunteers, and a menu that has no prices listed. Guests are not given a check at the conclusion of the meal and are instead encouraged to donate what they can to support the restaurant‘s mission. Julie and Jeff Williams were inspired and informed in their work by One World Everybody Eats, which helped pioneer the community cafe model in the United States. While it is still early in the restaurant’s history, the staff are encouraged. “We measure success in number of patrons who come through the door, percentage of folks in need, number of volunteer hours served, and program revenue,” explained Julie Williams. “We need to increase the number of folks who can pay what they typically pay or a little more in order to reach those in need.”
Taste is particularly appreciated for its shrimp and cheese grits, rib-eye steak chili and butternut squash risotto. There are exciting options for vegetarians and vegans as well. A celery root-green apple vegan soup is popular, as is a farro dish with cauliflower, snow peas and broccolini, all covered with a poached egg and lemon vinaigrette. The menu is seasonal, with winter’s pimento cheese bruschetta giving way to spring’s sweet pea bruschetta. Taste Community Restaurant is currently serving lunch from Tuesday through Sunday.
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