Sneak Peek Chapter – Same Cafe

The “pay-as-you-can concept” is a slowly expanding trend led by people like Libby and Brad Birky, who opened their non-profit restaurant in a transitional neighborhood in Denver, Colorado four years ago.  Thanks to their numerous volunteers and patrons, they have been self-sufficient during a time when many restaurants and businesses are failing. Their concept is being emulated by others who envision a world where all may be nourished.

Following is an excerpt from their story:

SAME Café (So All May Eat)

Libby Birky noticed the dollar bill on the floor one morning as she opened the door to SAME Cafe. “Did we drop this?” she wondered. And then almost every day for the next eight months, she was heartened by the sight of a single dollar bill that had been pushed through the slot in the door. (On the rare day when there was no dollar bill, there would be two the following morning). One evening, Libby was working late and caught a glimpse of the tattered clothes on the back of a man who surreptitiously walked away. Although she has not seen him since, a dollar still awaits her arrival each day.

At a restaurant where there are no bills, no cash registers, and no credit-card machines, one never knows what to expect. “You get awed and shocked every day,” said Libby.

Read more about their experience in the book Love Is the New Currency



  1. Reading the story about the SAME Cafe in Love Is the New Currency had a profound effect on me. This was the kind of world I always imagined as possible. Gandhi’s quote about being the change you wish to see in the world came to mind as I was reading and I decided that if this was the world I wanted to live in, one in which all of our needs are met, with love and compassion and without judgments or strings attached, then I had to start being that.

    I am a writer/editor and I also design and facilitate collage and writing workshops for women. I believe that the nurturance of our creative and intuitive abilities is essential – a need, not a luxury. I know the work I do does not fill the belly in the same way that a cafe, soup kitchen, or food pantry does, but it DOES feed the soul and can provide insights and creative ideas for dealing with “real world” challenges and issues. So . . . recognizing that some of us are richer in financial abundance than others, and counting on the innate generosity of human nature, I have decided to follow the SAME Cafe’s example and offer Open Pricing for most of my services. This means that participants get to decide what they will pay, based on the value of the services as well as what they can comfortably afford. I realize that this amount may change from month to month, even day to day, and it is my intention to work within this fluid system to provide excellent services that will nurture and support the creative spirit of all those who participate.

    Participant generosity, while not tax deductible, is very much appreciated and supports not only my work and their own creative process, but also “feeds” others who would not otherwise be able to participate.

    Thank you, Linda, for writing this book and thank you, SAME Cafe, for providing a compassionate example on which to base my own business!

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