Pay-what-you-can cafe in New Jersey

November 23, 2009 3:44:28 PM PST
In this tough economy, eating out may not be first on your priority list. So some restaurants are now trying something new. Instead of giving patrons a menu with prices, it's the customers who decide how much they want to pay. It is a sign of the times. Imagine being at a restaurant and hearing the suggested price of a dish, but then having the option to name your price.

That's how you are greeted at the cash register at the Better World Cafe.

Jean Stockdale is the executive director of Who Is My Neighbor, Inc., a non-profit that teamed up with one of New Jersey's largest feeding groups, Elija's Promise.

Together, they opened Better World at a church in Highland Park. It's a place where you choose how much goes on your plate and how much you want to pay for it.

You can give what it costs, give more, give less or even volunteer your time in exchange for the meal.

Rachel Weston is the head chef. She used to be a journalist. She says she finds her new career choice more rewarding.

All the food is made with ingredients that are grown locally. Some of it is vegan, and some of it is gluten free. Leftovers are given away and nothing is wasted.

On the menu Monday was grilled cheese, egg salad, quiche, two different kinds of soup and desert. All of it got rave reviews.

And there is always a community entre, free for anyone. All the other food will cost you, but at a fraction of restaurant prices. And you pay what you can pay.

Many people pay more than the suggested amount, and it's considered a donation.

There are only four other places like this in the country, but with any luck and a lot of help, there will be many more to come.

For more on the Better World Cafe, visit