Drexel to Close EAT Café, Philly’s First Pay-What-You-Can Restaurant

The mission-driven concept in Powelton Village will serve its last sliding-scale meals next week.

eat cafe closing drexel west philadelphia

EAT Café | Google

EAT Café, the not-for-profit restaurant on the Drexel campus, will close after two and a half years of serving pay-what-you-can meals to the community.

The restaurant — whose name stands for Everyone At the Table — is a project of the university’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities. It was conceived to offer sliding scale or free meals to those in need, with food donations from corporate partners, financial support from foundations and donors, and customers who could afford it paying full price or more making up the difference.

“Drexel is grateful to the patrons, donors and supporters who have eaten, given and cheered on the EAT Café restaurant where all could dine no matter their ability to pay,” said Niki Giancaris, the university’s executive director of media relations, in a statement to Foobooz. “However, due to rising costs of operations and a loss of funding, the EAT Café is unable to continue providing high quality food service for patrons and reasonable pay for staff.”

In addition, the EAT Café was never able to attract enough customers paying full price for their meals to balance out business from sliding-scale customers. The restaurant’s mission to support the surrounding community extended to its service staff, whose pay started at $14 per hour — far above the standard base pay of $2.83 per hour for tipped workers.

The EAT Café will close after its last service on Friday, April 19th.