When a Chicago restaurant opened before coronavirus, it seemed like the worst thing that could have happened. However, the Community Canteen has managed to survive! There’s a pleasant little catch to the eatery: it uses a pay-what-you-can model. That’s right! Read on to discover this incredible story…
The Community Canteen
As you might imagine, the man behind the Community Canteen has worked hard to make his dream come true. Before founding the Canteen, Ed Marszewski also founded the restaurant Kimski, the bar Maria’s, and the company Marz Brewing. Now, his new restaurant lets people in need pay what they want for their meals. For those who have some cash, the Canteen asks that they pay above what they usually would for the meal. In fact, as much as they can and feel comfortable doing. Anything extra diners five funds a future meal for someone else! How fantastic!
Sadly, Marszewski has been forced to close both Kimski and Maria’s during the pandemic, despite renovating their outdoor space. So, since he’s always in constant communication with his staff, he knows firsthand how devastating the pandemic has become. Incredibly, Marszewski has been working hard since March to ensure the entire Chicago community has what they need during this challenging time. He also launched the Community Kitchen Project, which helps deliver meals to those in need right now. Incredibly, the Project plans to provide over 2,000 meals to people all over Chicago, specifically the Bridgeport neighborhood, where Marszewski’s restaurants are located. Now, with the launch of the Community Canteen, he has become a hero in his hometown…
For Marszewski, it made simple sense to launch the Community Canteen after Kimski and Maria’s both closed. “It’s our attempt at finding ways to get through this winter,” he said. “We’re trying to do this because there are no real relief programs [for restaurants] out there.” Now, however, there is. The Community Canteen stands open from noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. “We just want to show that this community kitchen thing, it can work. We’re trying to keep that ecology going and keep this moving,” he added. “We’re going to do it through the winter, try to keep people employed and try to feed people. The need for food in Chicago isn’t going to end.”
Meanwhile, Chef Won Kim, who runs the kitchen, says that he hopes that people will not feel self-conscious when coming to the Community Canteen. There’s nothing wrong with not having enough money to buy a homecooked meal and still wanting. Of course, for those who have been blessed through this coronavirus, Marszewski and Chef Won Kim both ask that people come and show their support. After all, it much more than a delicious meal. It’s the chance to help out someone who needs it!
“We’re doing it because we feel there’s more need, and that it can be done,” Chef Won Kim said. “If we can do it, others can do it, too.”
Sources: BlockClubChicago, The Takeout