When I first discovered our local community cafe, A Better World Cafe, back in January 2010, I'd never seen anything like it before. Indeed, back at the time, community cafes were still a pretty new idea, and A Better World was only the fifth of its kind in the country. Yet the idea seemed so appealing in so many ways—healthy, sustainably produced food, in whatever portion you prefer, at whatever price you can afford—that I couldn't understand why it wasn't more popular. Shouldn't there be places like this all over the country?
Well, now there are—at least 40 of them, with more in the works. And as the community cafe movement goes mainstream, som big namess are starting to hop on the bandwagon. Jon Bon Jovi has opened his own community restaurant, JBJ Soul Kitchen, in Red Bank, with plans for a second one in Toms River. And Panera Bread, the popular restaurant chain, is now running four Panera Cares cafes, in Clayton, Missouri; Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Mass. These look and feel just like a regular Panera, right down to the free wi-fi, but operate on the community cafe model.
My latest post for Money Crashers explores the community cafe movement: how it started, how it works, and its various benefits, from fighting hunger to supporting local farmers. Read more about this uniquely ecofrugal type of eatery in the full article: Community Cafes – What They Do and Where to Find One.