10 Restaurants That Let You Pay What You Want (Really!)

Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Conscious Business, Economy with 0 Comments

Many claim there is a new, more conscious, collective economy arising. And there are definitely indicators. Once such indicator would be the proliferation of Pay-What-You-Want restaurants (or at least PWYW days every week in some establishments). In fact, the practice is getting common enough that there is now an acronym for these places — PWYW restaurants.

It does seem like a good win-win idea. Whether it's for marketing to new customers or for helping those less fortunate (it's actually probably serving both purposes), the PWYW model does seem like a good way for people to help each other and connect — restaurant owners, their patrons and members of the community that usually can't afford to eat out.

Here's a list of restaurants across the globe that are allowing you to PWYW to eat what you want at least one day a week:

1. Harvest Coffee and Cafe, Shelbyville, Kentucky

Wednesdays is PWYW day at Harvest Coffee and Cafe in Shelbyville, Kentucky where usually, delicious homemade fare costs around $9.95 per entree.

2. Lentil As Anything, 5 Locations, Australia

Founded by restauranteur and Ted Talk Speaker, Shanaka Fernando, Lentil As Anything is officially a non-profit. This is what the vegetarian organization's website says about their philosophy:

Lentil as Anything is a unique not for profit community organization. At our core are the pay as you feel restaurants where customers give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to contribute towards a world where respect, generosity, trust, equality, freedom and kindness rule.

And if you're wondering if this kind of model is sustainable, this non-profit “chain” has five restaurants — in Abbotsford Convent, St Kilda, Footscray, Preston and Sydney — and a growing involvement in education and ongoing community projects.

3. O.N.E. Bistro, Two Locations: Miamisburg and Xenia, Ohio

This two-location Dayton area restaurant “chain” was created by Robert Adamson who studied culinary arts under John Kinsella, one of twelve Master Chefs in the United States. Having  been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, Robert has worked in numerous fine restaurants.

In 2010, though, he felt a much greater calling, and through a program at his church, came up with the idea of O.N.E. to serve others in a way that felt in alignment with his Christian values.

4. Der Wiener Deewat, Vienna, Austria

If you're craving Pakistani food in Vienna, you can eat at the trendy Der Weiner Deewat and enjoy a full curry buffet served up in a small brick cellar. Up to 50 diners can fit into the restaurant at any given time and eat all they want, and pay what they can.

5. JBJ's Soul Kitchen, Two Locations: Tom's River and Red Bank, New Jersey

Always grateful…Happy Thanksgiving! #gratitude #community #familydinner #blessed

A post shared by Soul Kitchen (@jbjsoulkitchen) on

The JBJ in the first part of the Soul Kitchen's name stands for one of New Jersey's most beloved rockers — Jon Bon Jovi. The two locations of the Soul Kitchen allow patrons to pay for their meals by donating their time, or the amount of cash they wish to pay. There is a $10 minimum donation, so strictly speaking, you may not get to pay exactly what you want, but you are getting a delicious 3-course meal based on American Regional cuisine in a restaurant owned by an American rock icon. Not bad.

The meal starts with salad or soup, followed by a choice of entrée such as fish, meat or a vegetarian selection, and ending with a freshly made dessert. Many of the dishes are made with fresh, organic ingredients from the JBJ Soul Kitchen Farm.

6. Fika, Bricklane, London

Fika ran a charity event where they allowed customers to pay what they wanted. The event went so well and customers loved it so much that they decided to keep it as their operational model. Fika is a Swedish kitchen, so if you're hankering for authentic Swedish meatballs in the London area, head over to Fika and PWYW.

7. Same Cafe, Denver, Colorado

This Denver, Colorado volunteer run restaurant serves up pizza, salads and more for customers who pay what they want (or can) or donate an hour of their time instead. The food is healthy, organic and yummy. And that's not just what their sign says, but what Yelp reviewers think too. At the time of this article, Same has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Not too shabby for such a casual place.

8. De Culinaire Werkplaats, Amsterdam

The chefs at De Culinaire like to experiment. Their meals are planned around interesting themes like, “honesty,” “black,” or “flowers.” You don't get precise descriptions of the dishes, so only go here if you are open-minded and adventurous (and not allergic to a lot of things).

While you can PWYW for the lovely and tasty, experimental dishes, the establishment is not so generous with their beverages. Their menu includes set prices for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

9. Panera Bread, 5 Locations in the U.S.

Panera bread in the U.S. has shown that even big chains can make the PWYW model work. The company now has five locations that use “suggested donation” pricing and offer customers the opportunity to work in exchange for food. They are: Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts, and St. Louis, Missouri.

10. Annalakshmi, All Over the Globe

This popular Indian, vegetarian restaurant has always been based on the concept of abundance, sharing and trust. The name is a combination of the Sanskrit word for food (anna) and the Hindu Goddess of abundance, Lakshmi.

There are now many locations throughout the world, several quite large. The company operates on the following inspirational credo: “Eat what you want, give what you feel. We believe in you; we trust you”.

The list above is but a small fraction of the restaurants now offering PWYW menus — or special days where customers can give what they are able. The trend seems to be growing… as we all become more and more aware that we truly are one global family, and we only prosper when ALL of us have food to eat and a bed to lie down in.

About the Author
Vicki Howie is Co-Editor of Conscious Life News and the Creator of Chakra Boosters Healing Tattoos™, now worn by happy customers in over 44 countries. If you like chakras, you'll enjoy her contemporary healing album, Chakra Love. Open and heal your heart chakra with this free copy of her Heart Chakra Song now. You can visit her website here and her youtube channel here. Blessings.

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