Frequently Asked Questions

 We know this is an interesting concept for a lot of people and it is hard to understand or wrap your head around. We have pulled together a list of questions that we are asked most frequently. If we fail to answer a question, do not hesitate to reach out to us personally!

  1. What does pay-what-you-can pricing mean?

Customers have multiple options to pay:

  • Pay what you are able to afford.

  • Pay what you would typically pay for a similar meal. (We will have a suggested donation)

  • Pay what you would typically pay, plus an extra donation. (Pay-it-forward)

  • Pay specifically for someone else’s full meal.

  • Pay by volunteering with us.

      2.  What will the suggested donation be? Is there a minimum I have to pay?

The suggested donation will be less than one would pay for a healthy, locally sourced meal. It will be a reasonable fare with prices for a variety of different items from $5-$15. In order to cover our costs and encourage a dignified exchange, we allow for people to volunteer in exchange for your meal or make a minimum payment.

      3.  Where does my donation go if I donate more?

If you’re able to contribute a bit more, know that that will help feed those who come in and are unable to donate the full suggested donation for their food. Other cafe's operations show that 80 % of people need to be paying the suggested donation or paying more for their meal.

      4. Where will you get your food from?

We will use locally-sourced products as much as we are able to. We realize that seasons change and we will be unable to source locally for every item, but we will work with local farmers, our own garden, community gardens, and nonprofits as much as possible to provide our food.

      5.  What is the menu? Will it be a rotating menu?

We will have a menu consisting of breakfast and lunch items. We will have bowls, toasts, waffles, cereals as breakfast items. Our lunch items will be soups, salads, sandwiches, and some other creative dishes. We also will offer vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options. Please see our menu tab for more details.

     6.  How will people find out about the cafe?

We are on social media and will post daily in the cafe. We will have a window front sign for foot traffic.

     7.  What will my experience be like?

Picture any coffee shop you walk into. You walk in, choose whatever you want on the menu, and then check out. As you checkout you will have those multiple ways to pay. You personally choose what you can pay that day. We will bring your food to you as you sit at the community table, a bar stool, or another table in the cafe.

     8.  Who are you serving?

We are serving everyone. We believe that all people deserve dignity to eat in a restaurant and deserve dignity towards a healthy, affordable meal. Wherever you may come from, you are welcome to dine with us. We hope you will.

     9.  How many employees will work there?

We will have four employees: an Executive Chef, Cafe Manager, Executive Director, and a part-time front of house and back of house. The Chef will run the kitchen and the Manager will run the restaurant, both having volunteers to help.

     10.  What does volunteering for a meal look like?

All volunteers are properly matched to the function that best suits their abilities. Some may be working in the kitchen, some may be working outside, and some may be doing things like washing windows, wiping tables, dishes, etc. However, we are a restaurant first. Like every other restaurant in Raleigh, we are licensed and follow all rules and regulations by the Health Department. Volunteers will be required to do that as well.

Core volunteers will be different. We have a set schedule of volunteers who are with us each week. These people are trained and can do most anything in the restaurant. They will assist the hourly/monthly/quarterly volunteers with different tasks.

You must be 12 and older to volunteer with a parent. If you are 15 and above, you can volunteer with us without a parent.

     11.  How can I get involved?

Email to get involved! We mostly need people to dine with us when we open.

     12.  I don’t live in Raleigh, but like the idea. What can I do?

If you are financially able to, please consider providing monetary donations on our site at If not, that is okay. We would love for you to stay involved and for you to follow us on our social media platforms. Stay-up-to-date on our blogs and newsletters and see what we are doing. We love hearing from you at our email address as well:

     13. How do you know how many free meals you will be given out?

We have been given a grant from a corporate sponsor for our free meals this year. We are able to give out 20 volunteer meals every day. We will have a jar of these ‘free meals’ (tokens) and people can add to them as they come in and pay-it-forward.  Unfortunately, if we run out that day, then we run out. In order to cover our costs and provide a dignified, healthy meal for people, we must set these standards. We do believe that we will feed all that come in because of people’s pay-it-forward donations.

     14.  How is this different than a soup kitchen?

We are feeding all people a healthy, dignified meal. Soup kitchens are needed and provide a basic necessity: food. However, that is all they do. We operate as a regular restaurant providing choices of healthy food items and a dignified dining experience. We encourage people to eat together and enjoy their meals together.

     15.  What does having a community table mean?

A Place at the Table believes in the power of community. We believe that food can and will bring us together because we all have to eat and we all love to eat. We will have one communal table that people from all walks of life and backgrounds can sit at together. We encourage people to sit here and begin conversation. We will have conversation topics that can help initiate conversation.

      16.  If I want to buy someone else’s meal, how much does it cost?

We are selling tokens for $10. These will be added to the jar of our meal tokens. If you would rather buy tokens and take with you, they will be treated as gift cards. You may give them to whoever you would like to.