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@Drew_Smoke
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Utah Restaurant Bets on Honesty
By PAUL FOY,
SALT LAKE CITY - One World Cafe owner/chef Denise Cerreta ditched fixed prices for the honor system a year ago, and her social experiment is on the verge of showing a profit.


AP

Denise Cerreta, owner of the One World Cafe (AP)


"It's between you and the box," Cerreta said of a money chest that sits next to a water jug and mugs on a serving table. "We continue to grow. We continue to make money."

Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, said many restaurants are moving to a menu-free, size-optional format. But she knows of none that have experimented with the honor system.

The One World Cafe depends on the kindness of strangers, rich and poor.

Take the landlord, who lets Cerreta determine her rent: $1,650 a month for a two-story brownstone, where she lives upstairs. Or "Farmer John" Norborg, a 53-year-old self-employed gardener who tends a spice garden in back of the cafe in exchange for meals.

Another regular donated a quarter-acre lot for a vegetable garden three blocks away; retired oil-and-gas engineer Bill Wood picks up the water bill.

"I eat here all the time. Best place in the world," said Wood, 70, who favors the fruit salad.

Some customers volunteer for kitchen duty, another way to pay for meals.

Al Travland, a 66-year-old masseur, also believes honesty is both the best and most profitable policy. He, too, lets customers decide how much to pay - and insists the concept, though foreign to corporate America, brings out the best in customers, making for good business.

"Sometimes I pay less because I have less money. But I pay more when I have money. It always seems to balance out," said customer Carolyn Pryor.

Pryor contends Salt Lake City, where "you have so many honest people," is the right place for a pay-what-you-can plan. "In any other city it might not work."

There may be a subtle prod attached to Cerreta's kindness. Kitchen workers dole out itty-bitty portions of the organic meals, and hungry customers who have to ask two or three times for larger helpings may feel more generous at the money chest.

With lunchtime donations averaging $5, Cerreta said she was happy to collect $60 a day. But business and receipts grew to more than $700 and as much as $1,000 a day.

Still, the profit margin "comes and goes," she said. "It's a wash right now, but I'm committed to this working."

Cerreta pays her 15 workers $10 an hour; her monthly payroll is $12,000. She often has to buy equipment on credit, but when her rice cooker burned out recently, a customer offered to fix it.

She says the cafe is worth all the effort.

For years Cerreta ran an acupuncture clinic at her brownstone building, then decided to branch out with a sandwich and coffee shop.

She grew weary of offering the same menu, however, and decided overnight to take down the menu and price board.

"I'm just sick of business as usual," she said.

Later she dropped the acupuncture business, turning spare rooms into cozy dining with an old-world decor.

Business appears to be booming at One World Cafe; the money box is stuffed with bills including one $20 left poking out. Cerreta stuffs it back into a slot. The chest has an unlocked lid, but she doesn't seem the least bit worried.
 

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It's easy to be cinical in today's world. You see how human behavior is inexcusable in so many situations: looting during urban catastorphies, Fights and riots after sporting event, People robbing and murdering each other every day, people hurting children. It fills the news and makes me sick. Sometimes I don't understand how I can be of the same species as some of these violent and heartless people.

Something like this comes along and restores my faith in human nature. I can't say how much I enjoyed this. And yes, I DO think it would work in many places. I think a lot of people feel just like I do and would LOVE the opportunity to participate in a deal like this, just to prove to themselves, as well as the rest of the world that there is still more goodness than meanness in most people.

I salute Denise Cerreta and AL Travland for thier forward thinking and basic trust in strangers. I hope that as the news of this story gets around, the concept will spread and more and more business will give it a try.
 

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No way. If someone opened a restaurant like that in Corpus, not only would they be packed with non-paying eaters, any money in the cash box would be gone as soon as their back was turned. It would be nice to live somewhere like that though.

Jeff
 

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Jack --that's a good one...

In this thread Jack talks about the "goodness" of man and what a good concept this pay what you want restaurant concept is.

Yet, in another thread Jack is applying for a concealed handgun license?

Not picking on you Jack - you are a good and giving person -- just found a bit of humor in the contrast of your posts....:D
 

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What was I supposed to Member??
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one of the bait shops i use has an honor system. you get your own bait, then leave the money in the honor box. the guy says it works great for him, and that makes me proud. says a little something about the kind of people who love to fish. me....i say, always take good care of your bait guy!

trudy
 

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@Drew_Smoke
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Discussion Starter #6
Trudy, On Hwy 69 between Lindale and Mineola, there is a produce stand that sits unused nowadays. If you have ever seen the "Harris Chapel" sign on the highway, you have been right by it. Jack Ham used the honor sysytem for years and was only cleaned out a few times. Never the produce, just the money in the bucket and always only a few bucks.

There is nothing as soothing as sitting on top of the hill under a big Post Oak, sipping a little medicine under the Stars and Bars proudly flying in the front yard. Everytime I get up there, I am pretty mellow for the next week or so after coming home...lol
 

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drew, i looked for the sign the last two times i went up there, and could never find it. i did however see a couple of fruit stands that i think are close. i never could find the flag either, except there is one in front of one of the fruit stands. also, i drove down the old shreveport road, that was cool. i really love it up there, hope my mom and dad dont miss it too much! have you ever eaten at stacy's bbq in jacksonville?? best bbq i know of these days! (also the best beans) i am really going to miss a lot of that, but on the other hand, its going to be so GREAT having my mom and dad so close to us!

trudy
 

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I doubt it would work in Seabrook

there are just way too many out of towners and the business would be out of business in no time flat. This could only work in a small town or where everyone knows each other. We really only offer two choices, places to eat, places to drink. After 10:00pm on a weekend is no place to be on the road, people getting ready to go back to Houston after a full day of sun, drinking and having fun. This happens every where I know but it just seems every night you hear EMS/Fire/Police screaming down the road. I can not count the accidents I have seen just on Nasa Road One alone. Throw in the Pizza drivers and you have a formula for disaster, I have almost been hit head on from them, give them a few drunk drivers to dodge, forget it.

BTW, it's not people from Houston, people come from everywhere, we make a game out of it to count the out-of-state plates.
 

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@Drew_Smoke
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Discussion Starter #9
Its a reel small sign with an arrow pointing west. If you went east on the Old Shreveport road, there was a small house at the top of the hill 100 yards off the highway. That would be Mr Ham. If you went west, the Chapel was a few miles off of 69
 

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i went east drew, and i remember that house. is that where the flag was suppposed to be? did you grow up around that area??
 

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@Drew_Smoke
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Discussion Starter #11
My grandparents lived on 69. I would spend my summers driving Mr Ham crazy. Now I give him money and take him food. He says now, "I knew there was a reason I let your lazy arse hang around here for so long." LOL
 

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When I was a kid, I used to go stay the summers and Christmas vacations with my Grandparents in Waller, Texas. I had trails worn in the pastures to every stock tank and duck flat within 3 miles of her house. Anyways, there was a store there that the people had a dream in which God told them to open a store and operate it on a "pay as can" basis. It was called Gods' Mercy Store. I often went there as a kid in the early 50's and remember it being in business for many years. The owners were not rich, and I never saw a P/L statement, but I think it was in operation for like 20 or 30 years. Most of the locals shopped there and would over pay when able, to help out with the ones that couldn't. So, it can work, but.....that was a different time and a different place.

Later
R3F
 
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