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Paying it forward is the focus of a new restaurant coming to the Main Library

Paying it forward is the focus of a new restaurant coming to the Main Library

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Toledo is full of great restaurants, and there’s about to be a new choice on the menu. It’s called SAME Cafe Toledo. SAME is an acronym for So All May Eat.

A café is probably not the first thing when you think of when it comes to the Main Library but a new venue there will be feeding the mind, body and soul. It will change lives on a number of levels.

SAME Cafe Toledo will be opening later this year. There are no set prices or menus.

The concept behind the café is simple.

“We believe everyone should have access to healthy food regardless of their ability to pay,” said executive director Brad Reubendale. “There are always two soups, salads and pizzas on the menu because choice is a privilege to people with money. We want to provide that choice to anyone who walks through the doors. I first discovered SAME Café about ten years ago when I was homeless. I was fired from my job because of my sexuality, and I lost everything. I came to SAME Café when I was homeless because I didn’t want to share my trauma to get a meal.”

Despite its charitable nature, all costs involved in establishing the café and its daily operations are incurred by SAME Café and not subsidized with public dollars.

The Toledo café will be the first one outside the home base in Denver. Reubendale said the Colorado café opened 16 years ago.

“We are the longest running non-profit restaurant in the country.”

The café offers healthy, locally sourced and made from scratch meals. The meals aren’t free, but if someone doesn’t have money, they can donate things like time or produce.

Jason Kucsma is the Executive Director of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.

“The library provides what people need at the time they need it,” said Kucsma. “Training, entertainment, job search assistance and computer access. Food insecurity is a big concern in our community and this is a chance to bring those missions together. We hope this will be a model for libraries nationwide.”

Not only will lives be transformed, but so will the restaurant space. It will include an open food prep area and a large table as well as smaller seating areas.

“The library is a place open to everyone no matter who you are, where you come from, what you have and what you don’t have. SAME has that same mission, and it’s the perfect match for the two of us working together.”

Reubendale says it’s a simple meal, doing so much more than feeding people.

“I had a beautiful full circle moment when I took over the organization that helped me at my lowest point. I get to see beautiful acts of kindness every day at SAME, and it makes me believe in humanity again.”

The new café will open at the Main Library by the end of the summer. Thousands of people are expected to eat there every year.

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https://www.13abc.com/2022/04/01/paying-it-forward-is-focus-new-restaurant-coming-main-library/