Fort Worth ‘Pay What You Can' Restaurant Helps Feed Hungry

Fort Worth’s newest restaurant is now open in the Near Southside, offering a menu of fresh, healthy food for lunch, but without any prices.

“You just come and pay what you can,” said Julie Williams, whose husband Jeff came up with the idea for the nonprofit Taste Community Restaurant.

“I just think this was a calling that God gave me,” said Chef Jeff Williams.

According to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, more than 540,000 people in North Texas often go hungry.

“The majority of those are, you know, people who have jobs, they’re single parents, they’re elderly, they might be out sick or laid off, they only need help for a very small amount of time and a restaurant like this is really the perfect type of setup I think to meet those needs,” said Jeff Williams.

“It all shakes out in the end, so some people pay, some people don’t,” said Julie Williams, who volunteers her time at the restaurant.

Texas has the second highest number of hungry children in the country, according to figures supplied by the TAFB, and Tarrant County ranks among the top 10 counties in the United States with the highest number of hungry people overall.

“That’s sort of the bread and butter, or how we’re set up is to meet the needs of the 90 percent who really don’t tend to be the ones that go to soup kitchens and food banks and things like that, but still need some assistance,” said Jeff Williams.

A staff of five runs the restaurant and is supported by 24 volunteers.

"I just think that no one should have to worry where their next meal is coming from, no matter who you are,” said volunteer Tonja Sparks. “Everyone falls on hard times at some point in their life and this is just a wonderful way to give back to your community.”

Customers said they plan to support the new restaurant and help give back to the community.

“The whole idea of this place is very touching, to know that someone is willing to open up their hearts and their pockets to open up this restaurant for people that can’t afford to go out and eat,” said Lauren Busby, of Fort Worth, who was the restaurant’s second customer on opening day.

Right now, Taste Community Restaurant, located at 1200 South Main Street, is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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