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Due to pandemic, pay-what-you-can Grace Cafe forced to take a pause


Grace Cafe in Danville is closing. Directors explain it is “not going out of business” but rather an intentional decision “based on the pandemic and how our mission is intended to work” helping others.

Here is the official message that was sent out to donors today about the restaurant closing after Saturday:

“This letter comes with a heavy heart, an abundance of gratitude, and most of all, hope. Grace Café’s staff and Board of Directors have made the difficult decision to pause the mission and close the Café due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Community, volunteerism, hand-up charity, and human dignity are the keys to the success of our mission. With restaurants not able to open at full capacity, and the entire community not able to come to our table, our mission simply isn’t working right now. We’ve always held to the ideal that we are not in the restaurant business; we are in the people business. Our number one priority is to care for people – our customers, volunteers, staff, farmers, board, and donors.

“Simply offering takeout, providing free meals, and not interacting with customers is not only unsustainable financially, it dishonors the core values of our mission. We need to pause and preserve our resources. Not the least of which is all the goodwill this community has graciously bestowed on this amazing organization. We do not know what the future holds, but we hope that we will be able to regroup and continue our work for food justice, human dignity, and a hunger-free community.

“Please stay tuned. Because of you, Grace Café is an extraordinary success story. Five years ago, it was uncertain whether a small town could support a pay-what-you-can community café. Well, my friends, we have indeed proven that a pay-what-you-can community café DOES work in a special small town like Danville — just not during a worldwide pandemic. Thank you for everything you have done to support this wonderful mission.”

The letter is from Heather Pennington, President; Julie Nelson, Secretary; Don Porter, Treasurer; and Anna Bushong, Melissa Caudill, Emma Jackson, Libby Joiner, Joanie Lukins and Quentin Scholtz, Grace Café Board of Directors.

The letter also encourages patrons and customers to reach out with any questions or suggestions.

I am not sure there is another restaurant quite like Grace Cafe close to us and I have had friends come from Louisville, Lexington, Shelbyville, Covington and even Alaska to eat at Grace Cafe.

Hopefully this is just a pause but certainly it is an understandable pause.

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