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Pay-what-you-can cafe opens in Bausch & Lomb building

Foodlink Inc. has opened a new community café inside the Central Library’s Bausch & Lomb building downtown.

The café is a pay-what-you-can eatery at which guests can pay the suggested price on the menu or pay what they are able. Guests also can choose to pay it forward to help cover the cost for those who can’t, as well as to support Foodlink’s mission.

“We launched this café as an extension of our most transformative career empowerment initiative, the Foodlink Career Fellowship,” said Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco in a statement. “It will provide valuable training opportunities for our Fellows, fresh, nutritious lunch options downtown and a way for the whole community to learn more about Foodlink and our Community Kitchen.”

The café offers a new retail experience for apprentices who are enrolled in the Career Fellowship, a one-of-a-kind culinary training program. The seven members of the current Fellowship class primarily will be responsible for preparing the food and greeting and serving customers.

“The staff, patrons and neighbors of the Central Library are thrilled to have the café space open again and so excited to welcome Foodlink and their staff to the building,” said Library Director Patty Uttaro. “We are especially thankful for Foodlink’s innovative approach to this project which not only provides affordable nourishment to all but also provides valuable customer-facing experience for the staff behind the counter. We look forward to seeing the ‘pay what you can/pay it forward’ model succeed.”

The space once was occupied by Starry Nites, Tim Horton’s and Simply Crepes and now will offer a lunch menu created by Foodlink Executive Chef Casey Holenbeck that features sandwiches, soups, salads and sides. Other local menu items will include Fuego coffee, Amazing Grains bread, New York Chips, FIZ soda and Red Jacket Orchards juice.

Foodlink’s mission is to leverage the power of food to end hunger and build healthier communities. Its food-banking operations serve thousands of individuals annually through a 10-county service area.

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