“So all may eat” is a simple phrase at the heart of SAME Café, a new eatery, housed in the Main Branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library downtown. The Café allows guests to eat for free, or with a voluntary donation, empowering the downtown community to not only eat and enjoy what SAME creates, but also to be a part of the sharing process.
Cory Wolin, executive director at SAME Café, explained that the pricing model is intended to get customers to think about what they’re contributing and what they are consuming. “For the meal we want something that is meaningful to the person receiving it. If they can spare time, money, or produce, we can use those elements to build the menu.”
Taste of Community
It may seem unusual for a restaurant to pop up in a library, but Wolin explains, that’s the point: “We feel that food service in libraries is under-utilized, as they are community hubs, and what better way to bring a community together than with food. When plans were made to bring SAME Café to Toledo we looked at 23 different locations in the city before we decided on the Downtown Library.”
Now people who visit the library can stop on the main floor to see what’s cooking at the cafe. Every day two options for soup, salad and pizza are included on the menu, along with a cookie. The menu items change based on what’s been donated or purchased with available funds from local sources.
Wolin commented that the café recently “had customers who grow their own vegetables and have so much at the end of harvest season that they don’t know what to do with it. We take all of that food and the next day it’ll be [included in items] on our menu.”
The menu items available on the day we visited included cheesy bread pizza with mozzarella, parmesan and garlic oil, a green bean salad with golden beets and cashews, and a cup of chicken pot pie soup, along with a lemon shortbread cookie. The cheesy bread was simple but a worthy meal starter. The garlic oil brightened the flavor of the other ingredients.
The salad, reminiscent of the elevated cuisine of a high-end eatery, showcased crunchy beans and a sweet dressing that melded the beans with the yellow beets and cashews. To accommodate different dietary needs, items with common allergens can be prepared as a way to ensure safety, so for instance in this salad the cashews can be left out.
The SAME menu is community-driven, with the chicken pot pie soup as a creation of a volunteer. Finishing off the meal with the cookie was a sweet delight. It is yet another reason to return to SAME Café to share time and food with the great people who make it.
Open Monday through Friday 11am-2:30pm.
Located on the first floor of the Main Library, 325 N Michigan Ave., Toledo. 419-418-2233. To volunteer, contact email@example.com.