The Restaurant Facility Management Association announced its recipient of the annual RFMA Gives Program for 2012. The mission of RFMA Gives is to partner with charitable organizations that rely on private donations and use the vast resources of the RFMA membership. SAME Cafe, Denver, Colorado, is the 2012 winner. Founded by Brad and Libby Birky, the restaurant stands for So All May Eat, and speaks to the couple's desire to serve everyone, regardless of what they can afford to pay for a meal.
The Birkys spent years volunteering in food banks and shelters. The couple was so touched during their service they decided it was time to do something different to help feed the hungry. SAME Cafe opened its doors in Oct 2006.
"Our philosophy is that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy, organic food while being treated with dignity," explains owner Brad Birky, "Customers who have no money are encouraged to exchange an hour of service — sweep, wash the dishes, weed the organic garden — for a meal. Likewise, guests who have money are encouraged to leave a little extra to offset the meals of those who have less to give."
This unique concept has no set menu and no prices. The guests pay what they can afford or they work at the restaurant in exchange for their meals. While this concept might not sound like a successful restaurant formula, in the five years since they opened the cafe, the Birkys have expanded staff, space and offerings.
Now, through the RFMA Gives Program, the Birkys will receive the opportunity to really make a difference. The SAME Cafe will receive a kitchen remodel, provided by the generous contributions of RFMA member companies and individuals. Plans for this ambitious makeover include adding a 60-inch double oven w/griddle top, 10-foot center island prep table, under-counter dishwasher, as well as remodeling the design of the restaurant to add more space and productivity.
RFMA just announced this 2012 project to its membership and expects an even greater response than its first project earlier this year. Locally-based facility managers will oversee the work and RFMA vendor member companies will donate much-needed new and used equipment as well as providing labor and material at no cost.
"I anticipate the RFMA community will once again embrace this project with time, labor and money," says RFMA executive director Tracy Tomson. "The RFMA Gives Program enables RFMA members the opportunity to really make a difference."