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Pay-what-you-can model working for Knead Community Café in New Kensington |
Valley News Dispatch

Pay-what-you-can model working for Knead Community Café in New Kensington

| Thursday, June 15, 2017 12:18 p.m
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Mary Bode (right) helps at the counter as Knead Cafe manager Chanda Moyes serves food during the peak lunch hour on Thursday, June 15, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Volunteer Rich Specht, 67, of New Kensington serves orders up at the Knead Cafe on Thursday, June 15, 2017.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Suzette Venturini of New Kensington helps to serve the food at Knead Community Cafe on Barnes Street in New Kensington during its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. The restaurant has set prices but asks people to pay what they are able to if they cannot afford the price of a meal.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Kevin Bode (co-owner) and New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo help to cut the ceremonial ribbon on Knead Community Cafe on Barnes Street in New Kensington on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. The restaurant is a unique one in that they have set prices but ask for people to pay what they are able to if they cannot meet the price of a meal. To the right is Mary Bode (co-owner).

Good things are happening at the Knead Community Cafe in New Kensington.

The pay-as-you can-restaurant, founded by Kevin and Mary Bode, opened its doors in late February. It serves up lunch to customers who are asked to only pay what they can afford for their meals.

Those customers who can pay more are encouraged to do so.

So far, General Manager Chanda Moyes said the unique business model is working as intended.

“Things are going well — lots of collaboration and donations. The mission is its purpose,” she said.

The cafe saw a sprinkling of people during the lunchtime hours on Thursday. Among them was Kevin Snider, chancellor at Penn State New Kensington.

Snider said he is at the Knead Cafe once or twice a week because of the economic redevelopment Penn State New Kensington is undertaking in the city.

The college and the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. are in the process of developing an entrepreneurial center at Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street.

Snider said the concept of the Knead Cafe is fantastic.

Not only does it serve good food and provide fellowship, it shows that people are willing to invest in New Kensington, he said.

“I think that’s kind of a catalyst for lots of other things that we’re trying to do,” Snider said. “I love this place.”

Dining with Snider was first time visitor and Lower Burrell Mayor Richard Callender, who was there to discuss how the entrepreneurial center could also benefit Lower Burrell and surrounding communities.

Callender said the cafe is unique and a great place to meet people.

At first he didn’t know what to expect, but it seems as though the idea is catching on.

“As you can see, it’s fairly busy,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to come to New Kensington again and enjoy a restaurant like this.”

Since opening , the restaurant has relied on the help of volunteers to keep the place running. Despite the all-volunteer work force, Moyes said the shifts have been covered and the poorest members of New Kensington’s community have been served.

“We have a great volunteer force and lots of organizations are joining in to help,” she said.

Moyes said the restaurant also added a limited breakfast menu, served Saturdays, that has since gathered a dedicated following of regular customers.

Knead is currently closed on Mondays but is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturdays.

Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak contributed. Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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