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Jackson often gets a bad reputation for having a majority of chain restaurants and stores, but a new cafe downtown is conquering that reputation and bringing creative business tactics to town.
ComeUnity Cafe, located on 218 E. Main Street in Jackson, is a non-profit, volunteer and donation-based restaurant that serves local and homegrown food.
“We are using as much locally sourced food as we are able to get our hands on,” said Amy Crenshaw, owner of ComeUnity Cafe.
Crenshaw said she hopes the cafe will serve as a bridge “between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’”
Two of Crenshaws’ daughters spent a semester together in Denver, Co., where they happened upon a cafe called SAME cafe, which stands for “So All May Eat.” This cafe offers an option that ComeUnity modeled where customers can pay as they go, with multiple payment options.
ComeUnity cafe offers an option of working at the cafe for an hour to pay for a meal.
“We know people want to serve, but oftentimes they do not know how to do that,” Crenshaw said. “Today we had a couple of volunteers, and one helped wash dishes.”
ComeUnity cafe gathered resources for its business model from One World Everybody Eats Foundation.
About 35 businesses similar to ComeUnity cafe are open in the United States, although some are more elaborate than others, Crenshaw said.
Another unique factor of the establishment is the menu that changes every day, offering a variety of two soups, two salads and two sandwiches.
Ingredients come from Rose Creek Farm, J&J Farm, Lime Food and the cafe’s garden.
“We are growing some of our own lettuce and have kale in the garden,” Crenshaw said. “But we don’t ever want to be totally sustainable because we want to continually support local vendors.”
The customer is given an option of three portion sizes, with suggested donation prices for each option: the $5 option is a soup, salad or sandwich, the $7 option is one whole item and a half of another, and the $9 option is one whole item and two halves.
“It has been so incredibly well received,” Crenshaw said. “I made a point to introduce myself to all the neighbors (when preparing to open the cafe).”
The business operates on a more than 85 percent volunteer basis and is always open to volunteers coming to serve, bus tables, wash dishes or help in the garden.
To volunteer at ComeUnity cafe, access a link through its Facebook page. The link sets the volunteer up with a time to go in to serve.
IF YOU GO
ComeUnity Café, 218 E. Main St. in downtown Jackson, is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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