It’s becoming one of Kansas City’s most popular lunch spots and changing a neighborhood in the process.
What sets it apart from others are the prices. A month after opening, customers are still digging into their wallets even when they don’t have to.
“We are Kansas City’s first ‘donate what you can’ community cafe,” said Father Justin Mathews, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services.
The restaurant is called Thelma’s Kitchen and it’s located at 31st and Troost Avenue in Midtown.
Troost is an urban area that is known for dividing Kansas City along racial lines. It’s trying to redefine it’s image.
Carolyn Johnson has been stopping in for lunch anywhere from three to four times a week.
“The food is just beautiful, wonderful. You have a lot of choices,” said Johnson.
Thelma’s Kitchen features locally grown food as well as gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options.
“The experience is unlike any other restaurant in Kansas City,” said Mathews.
Reconciliation Services is the local non-profit that started Thelma’s Kitchen. Serving people is not something new, but Thelma’s Kitchen is a new concept for them.
“We’re working together to transform Troost Ave. from a dividing line into a gathering place, and reveal the strength of everyone,” said Mathews.
Every day the kitchen serves more than 100 plates of food. The suggested donation for a small plate is $7, and $10 for a large plate. If customers are unable to pay the suggested donation, Thelma’s Kitchen asks they volunteer in exchange.
“You can volunteer and wipe up the tables or sweep the floor or do the windows, 30 minutes and you get a free meal,” said Johnson.
Soon, Thelma’s Kitchen will be starting a “Lunch on Me KC,” program. They are asking local businesses to volunteer their time for the day and cook meals, or they’re asking businesses to donate money to pay for those who can’t afford a plate.
Thelma’s Kitchen is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.