CAFÉ 180, a nonprofit restaurant that fights hunger, celebrates Thanksgiving

Cafe 180, Englewood, Nov. 8, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cafe 180, Englewood, Nov. 8, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Every day at CAFÉ 180 you can eat for as little as $4 or volunteer for an hour in exchange for a meal.

The nonprofit restaurant on South Broadway goes a step further on Thanksgiving, when everybody feasts for free. This year, according to a news release from the café at 3315 S. Broadway, the holiday dinner is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Thanksgiving at CAFÉ 180 has been a tradition since it was opened in 2010 by two women who were concerned about hunger in the neighborhood. They modeled their café on SAME Cafe, open since 2006 on East Colfax Avenue.

Cafe 180 manager Boo Crosby (right) poses for a portrait with regular customer Steve Alla. Nov. 8, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cafe 180 manager Boo Crosby (right) poses for a portrait with regular customer Steve Alla. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Sarah Lesyinski, CAFE 180’s executive director, said more than 250 came last Thanksgiving. She was expecting more this year because she believes people in Englewood are becoming more aware of neighbors who are struggling, and the needy know more about the resources available to them.  Her staff is preparing for 325 Thanksgiving guests this year — quite a crowd for a restaurant used to serving 60 to 80 people a day.

CAFÉ 180 has a minimum of $4. Customers are asked to pay what they think is fair and they usually fork over between $10 and $12. People who can’t pay — between 30 and 40 percent of diners every week — get lunch in exchange for cleaning for an hour.

Other people volunteer just to keep the place going. CAFÉ 180 has a kitchen staff of just three and depends on community volunteers to help chop vegetables, wash dishes and make salads.

This year CAFÉ 180 started a paid work experience program.