When Spokane's One World Café opened on East Sprague Avenue in 2008, few believed it would last. The sense of futility arose because the new eatery subscribed to the then-unheard-of “pay as you can” philosophy that began with a bold vision and a tiny restaurant in Salt Lake City around 2003. The mission of said organization was (and still is today) to end world hunger by asking patrons to pay what they can for their meal, or to volunteer their time in lieu of payment if they need to.
To the cynical majority, human decency was too much to ask for, and yet the place thrived. It grew and spawned eateries across the country, including in Spokane, and there are even several in the works to be established in Haiti and India.
And now the viral trend has lured celebrity philanthropist and musician Jon Bon Jovi, who is planning to open The Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Jon Bon Jovi was reportedly inspired by a piece done for NBC Nightly News on The SAME (So All May Eat) Café in Denver, which began in 2006 after a meeting with the owners of the Salt Lake City restaurant. The musician attempted two trial runs of the idea in Jersey's community centers and was met with astounding results. After scouring the surrounding cities for an establishment, his nonprofit organization found an old mechanic's garage that they are currently converting. The Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant will be the first in the trend to have a celebrity name attached to it.
Regardless of name and affiliation, these community restaurants are not competing with each other, not striving for capital gain, and not interested the hallmark of their chain. Instead, they operate under a similar mission statement aimed at helping the community around them and are even willing to hold annual summits in order to exchange ideas and inspirations. Yes, this has once culminated in a cookbook.
One World in Spokane is a treat to anybody who has yet to step inside. The majority of their menu is made from ingredients grown in the garden just behind the establishment, and range from the “pay as you can” soup to personalized pizzas for a suggested, but not enforced, price. The variety does not disappoint and the hospitality inspires you to become a part of the group.
Visit one of the first restaurants in this rapidly expanding trend at One World, located at 1804 E. Sprague Ave., or find out more at oneworldspokane.com.