Congratulations on wanting to start a community cafe! We look forward to helping you in this wonderful endeavor to help alleviate hunger in your community and join the 60 cafes that are currently operating, as well as dozens of others in the planning stages.

While community cafes create more food security, they ultimately provide a venue for greater community dialogue and stronger relationships. As people come together to address hunger, they also open doors for collaboration on other community issues.  Our cafes are unique in that they seem to appeal to people across political, religious, and social spectrums.

Grace Cafe, Danville, KY.

Grace Cafe, Danville, KY.

How we can help

As you begin this journey of starting a community cafe, we have resources to help you along the way. As each cafe opened, they learned something new that can help others, so we have compiled a set of best practices and can answer questions via phone or email any time. 

read how to get started:

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.  



Starting a Pay What You Can Community Café

Here is a clear description of the seven core values of OWEE Pay-What-You-Can Community Cafes and how to make them part of your cafe model.

Mentoring and Personal Assistance

Our founder, Denise Cerreta, or a member of the OWEE Board of Directors will be glad to personally answer any questions you have and help provide additional resources and/or connections to existing cafes. You are also welcome to contact any of our existing cafes directly. Once you are ready to have a community meeting about your cafe idea, Denise or a board member can arrange to participate and assist as available. 

SAME Cafe Co-Founder Libby Birky at TEDxMileHighSalon in 2012.

FOCO Cafe Co-Founder Kathleen Baumgardner at TEDxPeachtree in 2016.

Annual Summit

Between 80 and 100 people typically attend this event every year and represent all stages of cafe development, from people just investigating our model, to existing cafe operators.  The event features well-respected keynote speakers, round-table discussions, networking with other attendees, breakout sessions with experts, and tours of cafes in the host city. 

2012 Summit attendees in Denver.

2012 Summit attendees in Denver.