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Everybody eats. Everybody gives. Everybody matters.

If you are enjoying a delicious meal with flexible pricing and one of your chefs is “that blonde chick with the walker who wears too much yellow,” you have probably found yourself at Big Big Table Community Café in the company of Co-Owner and Chef Mandy Bailey. The Café is a part of the organization One World Everybody Eats (OWEE), a network of cafés which follow the pay-as-you-can community café model. We caught up with Mandy Bailey and Big Big Table Board President, Stephanie Smith, to discover just what this new restaurant is all about.

What inspired Big Big Table?

It all began with a providential friendship.

Stephanie: Several years ago, someone introduced Mandy to Cathy Riley-Goddard, and the two became fast friends. Cathy later read an article about OWEE which described how Bon Jovi helped to spread this restaurant model and said she heard “Mandy Bailey” wherever the article said “Jon Bon Jovi.” She shared her vision with Mandy.

Mandy: It was like the heavens opened, and I knew this is what I was meant to do!

How does it work?

It is a nonprofit restaurant which serves quality food for which patrons pay what they can.

Stephanie: This model has worked in several other cities throughout the country. We will have suggested menu pricing, and whether you pay $0.20 or $20, you will have the same high-quality meal. Food rescue is also very important, and we accept damaged, “ugly,” and excess goods with shelf life left. We take the foods we have readily available and that are in season, and we create dishes from them. We plan to open five days a week for an extended lunch and serve a soup of the day, a salad of the day, a pizza of the day, rice and grain bowls and more.

Mandy: I look around and say, “What do we have?” to decide what we are making. That's what I call home cooking!

Sounds like Mandy is passionate about feeding others. How did that start?

Mandy grew up with fond memories of cooking in her dad’s kitchen and once partnered to run a catering service and “cakery” before moving to Buffalo for work.

Stephanie: Mandy has tattoos of large serving utensils right from her dad’s kitchen drawers, the very ones she grew up learning to cook with. After moving to Buffalo for a corporate food job, she realized she didn’t really jive with the job culture at her core. A lot of food was going to waste, and she wondered how she could make sure that food was going to people instead. That was when Cathy came in with her community café inspiration.

Mandy: Our mantra is “Everybody eats. Everybody gives. Everybody matters.”

When do you plan to open?