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The enthusiasm over the opening of A Place At The Table is clear, and contagious, when you walk through the door—that is, if you can get through the door. I finally got in on my third visit but it was worth the wait. While everyone agrees the business model that allows guests to pay what they can afford sounds great, many aren’t sure exactly how it works. So here’s your guide to visiting downtown Raleigh’s newest breakfast and lunch spot with a heart—and a mission.
When you enter, you’ll walk up to the counter and order from a menu of toasts, quiche and waffles for breakfast, or salads, sandwiches, soups and paninis for lunch. Each item is labeled as gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan and priced for what you would typically pay for a similar meal—they call it a suggested donation.
The cafe has a corporate sponsor, and it guarantees to give out 20 volunteer meals every day. There’s a jar of these ‘free meals’—wooden tokens people can add to the jar as they come in and pay-it-forward. If the cafe runs out that day, then they run out. In order to cover costs and provide a healthy meal for people, they must set these standards. But they do believe they’ll be able to feed all who come in because of people’s pay-it-forward donations.
The dining experience at A Place At The Table is like any other restaurant experience in Raleigh; the only difference is you have multiple ways to pay when you check out. After ordering, you find a place to sit at the bar or a table and your food will be brought out to you.
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