Windsor's Namaste Corner Cafe offers meals for $5

 

Corner Café hopes it'll pay off

 
 
 
 
Namaste Corner Cafe executive director Kim Elliott operates a not-for-profit cafe with the help of volunteers like Adrienne Brown, left, Saturday October 24, 2009.
 

Namaste Corner Cafe executive director Kim Elliott operates a not-for-profit cafe with the help of volunteers like Adrienne Brown, left, Saturday October 24, 2009.

Photograph by: Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

WINDSOR, Ont. — Walk in the door of Namaste Corner Café and you won't get a table with a cloth, a linen serviette or a full drink menu. What you will get, though, is a big, home-cooked meal, some friendly company and the cheapest bill in town.

"Five dollars is the most you'll ever pay — plus taxes — for a meal," says Kim Elliott, the man who has been logging about 70 hours a week getting this non-profit restaurant off the ground.

Non-profit restaurant?

It's an unusual concept, Elliott admits, but he hopes it'll pay off for the restaurant's benefactor, the Black Canadian Ethnic Club. Founded in 1986, the club's activities primarily focus on heritage preservation and cultural development for Africanadians.

Too often, community organizations depend on public funding or bingo halls to stay afloat, Elliott says. It's a trap he wanted to avoid. So, as the club's executive director, he dreamed up what he hopes will be a self-sustaining source of revenue for the group.

Namaste has been open to the public for only three weeks, but the little Erie Street diner is already filling about 35 bellies a day with what

Elliott hesitatingly calls "soul food."

"We're not striving to make it soul. This is how we eat. If you went to an Italian's home, they wouldn't say, 'We're having Italian food tonight.' That's what they eat. But if there's going to be a label, I guess you could call it soul food."

Elliott calls the menu a "cafe-style" menu, meaning customers will have limited options. On Mondays, they'll get beef — maybe hot roast sandwiches, Irish stew or shepherd's pie. Tuesdays they'll get pork, Wednesdays it'll be chicken, Thursdays are vegetarian (with meat options), fish is the dish on Fridays, and barbecues are on Saturdays. Freshly baked desserts, soups and breakfast are also available, though they aren't included in the $5 price tag.

Expect each entree to come with a hearty side dish of fries and coleslaw or potatoes and collards, or whatever else Nancy Elliott has decided to stir up in her pots and pans.

She's a regular in front of the stove — one of the restaurant's 10 volunteer staff members. A sign on the wall reads "Mom's Kitchen," and that's exactly how Nancy cooks. She fries the fish on a stove that you'd find in any home, she grates the cabbage, bakes the pies and brews the coffee, just like she'd do for her kids.

Elliott and Nancy, siblings, know almost everyone who walks in the door, and if they don't know you, they'll know you by the time you leave. Chatting with and among customers is standard practice at Namaste.

That was part of the plan. "We needed a gathering place anyway," Elliott says. "We needed to have a revenue-generating component and food is our forte."

Before Namaste Corner Café was born, the Black Canadian Ethnic Club carried out its meetings at members' homes or at the Sandwich First Baptist Church. This is the first time the club has had a designated meeting place. Above the restaurant is an office for the club, and elsewhere in the building is a food and clothing co-op. "We're trying to be responsive to the current downturn in the economy," Elliott says.

But with just four tables in the restaurant and the heaps of mashed potatoes, gravy, fried chicken and green beans selling for just $5, profit may seem a long way off. Elliott is banking on a steady flow of customers to support the restaurant and club.

At $5 a plate, that won't likely be a problem.

IF YOU GO

– What: Namaste Corner Café

– Where: 188 Erie St. E., 519-258-2233; cornercafe.ca

– Grand opening: Dec. 12, 1 p.m.

– Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays noon to 7 p.m.; and Sundays by appointment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

STORY TOOLS

 
 
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JC
 
November 16, 2009 – 4:24 PM
 
 

Awesome concept!!! I hope it works Kim, I'll be routing for you!!!! You should be proud!!!!

   

 
Ron
 
November 16, 2009 – 3:55 PM
 
 

I don't know how you can do it for $5 . It sounds real good and I will be sure to give it a try.

Best of luck Kim at 5 bucks it will cetainly help those in the city that need a meal.

God Bless

   

 
I'M GOING !!!
 
November 16, 2009 – 1:49 PM
 
 

CAN'T WAIT !! to try them !!!!!!  

   

 
danielle
 
November 16, 2009 – 1:35 PM
 
 

it think this is a great idea and ithink this place will be a great success!! i'll 4 sure be by to check it out with some friends and family

   

 
Cletus
 
November 16, 2009 – 1:28 PM
 
 

Not a bad meal. No LLBO license so I can't get me a bottle of ripple but the food is dam fine!

   

 
Desire
 
November 16, 2009 – 1:25 PM
 
 

Food is great and with that price its even better,I will be back.Very good idea.

   

 
I LOVE it!!
 
November 16, 2009 – 1:13 PM
 
 

I love this idea…. if the cafe could please make a list of items that they need: (food, furniture, what ever) and put it on their website or in the paper…. I'm sure the public would love to help.

   

 
Geoff
 
November 16, 2009 – 12:59 PM
 
 

Good for you. I hope everything works out for you.

   

 
Juliet
 
November 16, 2009 – 12:09 PM
 
 

I think this is great. I'll have to come and check it out and bring some of my friends from Windsor Christian Fellowship.

   

 
Sounds great!
 
November 16, 2009 – 12:01 PM
 
 

Can't wait to try it and wish you all the best!

   

 
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