Hometown Eats: Open Door Cafe

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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WYTHEVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - They aren’t talking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, more like gut-busting, to-go box-needing, fresh homemade portions at the Open Door Café in Wytheville, VA.

“The mission is very simple. We are a donate-what-you-can café and that simply means that everybody eats free,” says director of food operations at Open Door Cafe Mike Pugh. “We really try to give everybody a quality meal because, pure and simple, it might be the only meal they have all day.”

Pugh has been at Open Door since the business bought an old tire garage and transitioned it into a restaurant in November 2018. Open Door is a pay-if-you-can restaurant, feeding whomever walks through the door, no questions asked. More than 20,000 meals went out of the kitchen in 2020 and 85% of them were free or at a reduced rate. If you’re able to donate, the suggested price is $8 a plate.

“We want it (food) to be healthy and warm and important to them,” added Pugh.

The café is a creation of the Hope Inc., which has helped people on hard times with housing for 30 years in Wytheville, but they knew there was a need for food assistance.

“The work that’s happening here with volunteers and food donation and the community support has been the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my almost 30 years of work with Hope,” said Hope Inc. executive director Andy Kegley.

Not only are you going to get a great homemade meal with fresh local ingredients; you’ll get some big smiles from the volunteer staff. As for the food, the menu rotates weekly and local chef Jennifer Crockett has a very simple way of putting it.

“You’re not going to leave hungry,” joked Crockett.

“This is a place where we want you to come and relax and be friends and have a good meal and leave here feeling better than when you got here originally. If we can do that, then we are being successful,” said Pugh.

Open Door Café in Wytheville is a hometown eat that’s feeding bellies and souls.

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