Share What You Can, Pay What You Can: Dorothy's Kitchen Table in Denton

Photo by Shaina Sheaff

Photo by Shaina Sheaff

In an unassuming pink house on the side of Robertson Street (near Fred Moore High School) sits Dorothy's Kitchen Table, the home of Denton's very own community-ran, pay what you can, restaurant and meeting space.

Named after Dorothy Day, the goal of Dorothy's Kitchen Table is to provide a safe, loving, and welcoming space for all members of the community. By shifting the focus away from conventional economic terms, such as “pay” and “customer,” Dorothy's has created an accessible environment for people from all walks of life. Guests and neighbors are encouraged to share poems, music, special talents, contribute what they can, or to volunteer in lieu of typical forms of payment. With a limited food budget, meals are organic, seasonal, and are prepared using (mostly) local ingredients and donated items.

Now, some folks may read “pay what you can” as “free meal” -- let us be the first to tell you, that is not how it works. If you cannot afford to pay for your meal, you can talk to them about working in trade for your meal, though. Dorothy’s Kitchen Table is by no means a soup kitchen, but instead a place where anyone in the community should feel welcome to come and take part in being together.

Photo by Shaina Sheaff

Photo by Shaina Sheaff

One-hundred percent community ran and cooperatively-owned, Dorothy's Kitchen Table relies on a hard working team of dedicated volunteers. Members of this group work together and take turns planning and preparing menu items, serving dinners, and maintaining the property. Occasionally, volunteers cook and cater various art and music events within the community.

Several volunteers work directly with local farms and farmers who share a passion for sustainable agriculture to provide fresh and organic produce. Eventually, Dorothy's plans on having a working garden on site to further their ability to share healthy food without having to rely on customary business methods.

Along with cooking and serving delicious meals, the space used to house Dorothy's Kitchen Table doubles as a community meeting space. People are often performing spoken word, reading poetry, or sharing songs with diners and friends. Friday nights are dedicated to “Story Stew” where stories with rotating themes are shared alongside dinner. Volunteers are enthusiastic to put their varying gifts and abilities to use and host workshops, to assist people who are interested in learning new skills, including photography.

Due to the unconventional nature of this for-profit business, Dorothy's Kitchen Table is dependent on donations and is always in need of supplies from generous members of the community. Hand soap, trash bags, and tea cups are examples of small items needed, but Dorothy's is also in need of pricier assistance, such as a laptop and tax filing services.

An updated list of needed materials is available on the Dorothy's Kitchen Table website, along with information and applications for various positions within the cooperative group. Most of all, Dorothy's Kitchen Table is in need of motivated people willing to put forth the love and effort to keep this unique community experiment alive!

Dorothy's Kitchen Table is open for breakfast Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 7:00-10:30 am, and dinner is served every Friday and Saturday evening from 5:00-9:00 pm. They are also open to hosting events on Saturday evenings, and interested parties can come by and talk to them. The yare located at 511 Robertson Street.