541 Eatery paying it forward

A community-based restaurant in Hamilton’s north end is bringing people together with a simple concept: come in, enjoy a delicious homemade meal at a very reasonable price; then when you can, pay it forward by buying a button that people who are short on cash can use to buy a meal.

Customer Ed Szpytma says it’s a great idea. “It gives back to the community some areas have more need than others it’s working out very well and I see it’s popular and the foods good and it’s a great idea.”

It’s been six months since 541 Eatery and Exchange opened its doors on Barton St in Hamilton’s north end. Executive director Sue Carr calls it “really successful beyond our expectation.”

Customer Sean Botham adds: “It’s great for the neighbourhood and it’s great food as well.”

“Well we make everything from scratch.” Chef Carolyn Vaughan explains all the sandwiches are made to order. “Our roast beef sandwich comes from actual roasts that we cut ourselves; our grilled cheese, we use real cheddar cheese. And all of our baking is made from scratch too.”

Volunteer Abby Craig: “I get to know a lot of my neighbours and just hang out and give back in a way. It’s really fun; I always feel really joyful at the end of my shift.”

“The people here are nice and the food’s good so it would be a good spot to bring your family.”

“I think what we’ve done is to capture people’s imaginations. I think what we’ve done is provide a place for people to be generous to one another. I think people’s natural tendency is to be generous and is to be inclusive, and I think most people really enjoy it.”

541 Eatery is much more than just an eatery, it really is becoming an integral part of this community. Staff already run a homework club for local kids and next on the list is raising funds to by equipment to host movies.


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