Welcome to the OWEE commnity page.

The OWEE community benefits from several programs, which are administered by the OWEE board of directors.


Annual Summit

The 2019 Summit will be held in New Orleans from Friday, January 18 - Sunday, January 20. Monday January 21 from 9:00AM-Noon is a board and OWEE Community planning session for the year all are welcome to participate and join the board. Events on Friday will be tailored to new cafe operators, those who have never attended a summit, and those would like basic information about the OWEE concept.

We are working to coordinate a full and exciting agenda of activities, including a pay what you can meal , a stimulating keynote speaker, expert guest trainers from local universities and nonprofits, panel sessions featuring veteran cafe operators, a celebration dinner, and plenty of time for networking.  

The summit will take place at the Maison Dupuy Hotel in the French Quarter.  A block of rooms has been reserved, and reservation info is available here:

Registration info is available here:


If you are interested in hosting an OWEE summit please look in our google drive for the document criteria list. We historically choose the location a year in advance at our summit board meeting so would need your proposal a few weeks before that. We plan to announce the location of the 2020 summit at the 2019 summit.

Cafe Mentoring

Because the pay-what-you-can community cafe concept is relatively new and uncommon, people who wish to open a cafe have few resources to draw upon apart from the OWEE network.  OWEE board members offer one-on-one or group mentoring and consulting to anyone interested in starting a cafe or modifying an existing restaurant to include pay-what-you-can pricing. 

Additionally, the 80-page manual OWEE Guide to Starting a Community Cafe offers a clear description of how to begin.  The author is OWEE Board Member Rev. Dr. Chris May, who was a founding board member of F.A.R.M. Cafe in Boone, NC, has done research on the pay-what-you-can model, and teaches non-profit management at Appalachian State University.  

Cafe Funding

When funds are available, OWEE offers grants to start-up and existing cafes.  It has also provided kitchen equipment and reference books and materials.

OWEE hopes to make two grants to cafes at the 2019 summit.

 Community of Practice

OWEE supports and fosters of community of practice for member cafe operators, staff, and volunteers, who have in common a passion for food security and community building and want to learn from each other about how to manage successful cafes.  Through sharing experiences, members are able to develop professionally and personally.

OWEE manages a private Facebook discussion forum, where cafe operators interact, ask questions, and offer advice.  As well, the OWEE Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages provide a virtual community in which members share ideas, photos, news, and events.

We have an 'open' call to OWEE board members the FIRST SUNDAY of every month at 8:00pm- 8:15pm EST.  We would love to hear from you about your progress, comments, suggestions, ideas, questions, etc

Phone Number: 605.475.3250  

Access Code: 568481


 Body of Knowledge

Over the years, OWEE has developed a set of concepts, terms, and activities that make up its professional domain.  This foundation of accumulated knowledge includes the core teachings, essential competencies, skills, and research in the pay-what-you-can community cafe arena.  This structured information is used by OWEE members to guide their work and practice. 



OWEE maintains an online library of resources for member cafes. The organization is building a database of operational information and statistics from across the network, which will demonstrate benefits, impact, and gaps in performance.  

 Collaborative Partnerships

OWEE board members are working to form collaborative associations with like-minded national and global nonprofits and corporations that are centered on food security and with academics doing research on hunger.  Moreover, partnerships have been formed and are being sought with organizations that offer support to community cafes.  For example, a recent agreement with TOAST, Inc. allows member cafes to purchase a restaurant point-of-sale (POS) system at a reduced price.