Southwest Virginia's first donate-what-you-can restaurant opens in Wytheville

WYTHEVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) -- Southwest Virginia's first "donate what you can" restaurant is now open in Wytheville.

The model allows people of all incomes to share a meal together without judgement.

"Right now, we've got bacon-wrapped meatloaf, smokey collard greens with vegetable soup, and berry mix cobbler," JC Botero said.

Botero is the chef at the new Open Door Cafe.

"It's going to be a donate-what-you-can-model," Andy Kegley, Hope Inc.'s executive director said.

It's the second restaurant of its kind in Virginia and an important step in ending food insecurity in Wythe County.

"Food insecurity for households is about 14 percent." Kegley said. "So every day there's 14 percent of families wondering where a meal is going to come from."

For 6 years, people have been able to get a free meal twice a week from the Community Food Kitchen, but volunteer Betty Robinette always wanted to do more.

"It's just been a dream come true that we have this facility and it's paid for through grants. I'm just very pleased," she said.

The Open Door Cafe will serve lunch five days a week and dinner on Wednesdays.

As its name suggests, everyone is invited and no one has to pay. However, customers can still pay it forward by purchasing free dinner tokens to give to people in the community."

"Our tagline is 'everybody eats with us,'" Kegley said.

No food kitchen stigma or low income judgement.

"Here you won't know who's paying or who's volunteering," Kegley explained. "It's going to be a very anonymous transaction."

Robinette said she accepts payment in the form of hugs.

Open Door Cafe is in need of more volunteers and monetary donations to keep its doors open for years to come.

You can find more information about Open Door Cafe's hours, menu, and Thanksgiving Day 5K fundraiser on its website.