In 2003, Denise Cerreta opened the first pay-what-you-can community cafe called One World Cafe in Salt Lake City, Utah; an exciting new concept at the time. Three years later, Denise was contacted by Brad and Libby Birky, a couple in Denver who wanted to replicate the One World Cafe model, so Denise traveled to Colorado with her volunteers to help them open the S.A.M.E. Cafe (So All May Eat).
Since then, Denise has inspired and assisted in the opening of more than 60 other cafes. OWEE’s notoriety has even touched larger groups such as Panera Bread and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which contacted Denise for guidance in opening their community cafes and continue to be partners. Starting in 2010, Denise also began hosting a networking Summit in a different city every year, allowing others who have opened community cafes to mentor groups in the planning phases.
In 2009, after 6 successful and joyful years of directing the One World Cafe on a daily basis, Denise chose to focus on helping other communities rather than remaining in Salt Lake City. While keeping the original cafe open was a commitment, it became clear that a passionate visionary on location is an important key to the success of the model. With that realization, and considering Denise was often absent from the One World Cafe, the board made the hard decision in 2012 to close the original cafe and focus on helping others replicate the model in their communities.
A message from Denise:
Fourteen years ago, I never would have imagined the evolution of One World Cafe. After a few months of working alone (with no experience!), then understaffed, we have now transitioned to creating an organization that is mentoring communities around the globe. This has allowed me to focus on mentoring and traveling to attain a deeper understanding of hunger, food insecurity, community, and food resources. I thank everyone who has been part of this mission. Our goal is to continue to bring the One World Everybody Eats vision to larger audiences. We often receive requests for information on our model, our tax documents, business plans, and other information that we share freely. We also provide our guidance as people either seek to open new cafes or convert existing ones to the community cafe pay-what-you-can-model. We believe that mentoring, networking, and fund raising for the community cafes is where our energy is best spent. Everyone striving to establish a community cafe can now see they are not alone. We believe our efforts are helping to spread the establishment of successful cafes worldwide even faster. We relish the role and opportunity to help the pay-what-you-can community cafe model come to fruition everywhere. Our board is available to mentor anyone who would like to learn about community cafes. Also, order our official guidebook, "OWEE Guide to Starting a Community Café,” written by Rev. Dr. Chris May.