The SAME Cafe is a nonprofit community cafe located at 2023 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado. Brad and Libby Birky invested $30,000 to open the restaurant on October 20, 2006, inspired by their background in community service and a visit to the One World Cafe in Salt Lake City, Utah.[1] The name is an acronym for "So All May Eat", and their motto is "Making healthy, organic food available to all". They offer higher quality food in a pay what you can format where the diner puts what they feel their meal was worth in a donation box. They also accept a 1/2 hour of volunteer help in exchange for a meal, made possible by Colorado laws which do not require a food handlers certificate for restaurant workers.[2]

SAME Cafe Storefront


They pay about $2,500 a month for rent and approximately $2,500 for the food.[2] Before their expansion in November, 2008 they served 40–50 meals a day with seven tables.[3][4] Since the expansion they now serve 75–100 meals a day. The average food cost is approximately $3 and the average donation per meal determined by a reporter was $3.66.[2] Over time, the average donation has decreased, but it was offset by an increase in customers. They offer a limited menu which changes daily, simplifying the variety of food they need to purchase and reducing the amount of wasted food. They buy from a variety of sources, including direct from local farmers, warehouse stores such as Costco, higher end grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market and even the Denver Botanic Gardens.[2]

They are open for lunch six days a week and closed on Sunday.


On the March 9, 2009 NBC Nightly News broadcast, Brian Williams singled out the SAME Cafe for recognition in the "Make a Difference" segment.[5] That broadcast inspired Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich to create in 2010 a chain of six similar restaurants, Panera Cares,[6] all of which closed by 2019.[7]


  1. ^ Gergen, Chris; Gregg Vanourek (December 3, 2008). "The 'pay as you can' cafe". Washington Times. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  2. ^ a b c d Maher, Jared Jacang (February 25, 2009). "SAME Cafe: The restaurant where you pay what you can". Denver Westword News. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  3. ^ Meadow, James B. (April 18, 2007). "SAME Cafe: So All May Eat; Restaurant serves food to everyone; pay if you can". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on February 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  4. ^ Porter, William (October 8, 2008). "SAME making difference". Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  5. ^ O'Neil, Roger (March 9, 2009). "In Denver, a pay-what-you-can café". NBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  6. ^ "Panera Cares". 7 June 2011. Archived from the original on 5 September 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Panera Bread closes last pay-what-you-can restaurant". Nation's Restaurant News. February 6, 2019.

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Coordinates: 39°44′24″N 104°57′46″W / 39.739914°N 104.96288°W / 39.739914; -104.96288 (SAME Cafe)