The Mustard Seed - A Community Café will be located in the Sunset Heights/Downtown area of El Paso, Texas and is a ministry that will operate as a restaurant. A charitable 501 (c) (3), the café is a non-profit, Christian outreach ministry that will generate self-sustaining income. Location is in a progressive, economically diverse community that is prepared to support the concept.
The Mustard Seed exists to combat physical and spiritual hunger locally and throughout the world by using quality, fresh ingredients in the food we serve, helping others learn about food preparation and job preparedness, participating in community missions, and showing the love of Jesus through acts of service.
Meet the needs of those around us both physically and spiritually.
Show Christ’s love through acts of service and hospitality.
Serve all people by giving them a hand up and not a hand out.
Build a stronger sense of community within El Paso.
Provide training in interpersonal skills and food service to lead to job readiness.
Strive to be green, reduce food waste, and minimize our carbon footprint.
Plant seeds of knowledge about whole foods and healthy eating.
Two major features of the café are its flexible menu, based on sustainable, seasonal eating and flexible pricing that makes it affordable for all people. A pay-what-you-can system, which includes the option of volunteering in exchange for a meal, creates a supportive, intentional eating community where all may share. Additionally, the café will offer a daily complimentary dish that is The Mustard Seed’s gift to the community. The café is modeled on One World Everybody Eats, a successful sustainable-eating establishment in Salt Lake City that has been operating for seven years, is run by a non-profit foundation, and has been replicated in other cities.
Patron control over selections and portions leads to a situation in which little waste is generated. Patrons cooperatively participate in determining a fair price for their meal. Work is accomplished by volunteers as well as by a small, paid staff, so that the number of people on staff is minimized and the pay rate for staff can be at a living wage.
In the startup phase, the café will be open for breakfast and lunch five days a week. It may eventually be open on Saturdays and offer dinner as well. It will be set up to serve buffet style.
Grant funding, in-kind contributions, church, individual, and family contributions are sought to meet the startup budget. After startup, the café will be funded through its own revenue.
The Mustard Seed will be a café with a community garden in the Sunset Heights/
Downtown area of El Paso, Texas. Two key ingredients that will define the food service at The Mustard Seed are:
a) a menu that offers healthy, natural, unprocessed food (local and organic when possible) contributing to a sustainable eating culture and a healthier community;
b) flexible pricing that creates a community table – all people in the community are invited to enjoy the salads, soups, entrees, and desserts in a loving and accepting environment. People will pay what they can for the food they eat, have opportunities to give back by volunteering, and learn skills related to the food service industry through on the job training.
The concept has been tested: The Mustard Seed is modeled on a successful, sustainable-eating, non-profit cafe that has been operating in Salt Lake City for seven years and has been replicated in at least fifteen other U. S. cities. More than a dozen similar, new restaurants are planned throughout the country and abroad. The pioneer establishment, One World Everybody Eats, freely shares its operations in a how-to manual called Spirit in Business and shares its financials at www.oneworldeverybodyeats.org.
Similar cafes now operating in other cities can be visited at:
www.soallmayeat.org (SAME – Denver , CO)
www.oneworldspokane.com ( Spokane , WA )
www.betterworldcafe.org ( Highland Park , NJ )
www.ransomcafe.com (Mobile, Alabama)
Non-profit Christian Ministry
This venture is a Christian ministry as well as a social enterprise that will be self-supporting from its revenue. It reduces hunger and increases dignity among those who are food insecure. Paying customers subsidize the feeding of people who cannot pay.
The Mustard Seed creates jobs and provides job training to people who volunteer in exchange for their meal. Through its array of healthy eating choices, it provides the dietary means to improve health and reduce obesity. Through its envisioned cooking
demonstration station, its free-taste policy, and its cafeteria serving line that lets the patrons see the real food, it encourages trying something new and educates while feeding. It creates caring community through the fellowship of intentionally eating together, and utilizes volunteers who may also support the café as paying diners.
Unique also to The Mustard Seed will be its aim to meet the spiritual needs of its patrons as well as physical needs. Each of our patrons is created in the image of God and is worthy of honor and respect. We are dedicated to sharing Christ’s unconditional love with all who enter the café. Many people in El Paso long to pour out their lives in service to the poor but do not know how to begin. The café provides a safe place where relationships can be built between the privileged and the poor and between racial groups.
The Mustard Seed seeks to establish partnerships with area churches and other non-profits that work to address the needs of the food insecure through shelters, food banks, and meal programs. To our knowledge, however, there is no other pay-as-you-can community café operating in El Paso.
This is one of the defining concepts of the enterprise. Patrons have total choice and control over their selections and portions. The café will suggest fair prices for customers who can pay for their meal and will accept whatever people are able to pay. Volunteer opportunities are provided for those who have little or no income, and who can work in exchange for their meal. One meal voucher will be given for every hour of work done. In addition, there will be a complimentary, staple dish always available to everyone. This is The Mustard Seed’s gift to the community.
In order to remain in operation, we must meet a bottom line. Although The Mustard Seed is a Christian outreach ministry, we expect people to be accountable and responsible for their own actions. We are a not-for-profit restaurant and must purchase our food. It will be important to have a consistent, reliable income from a patron base of both paying and sliding scale customers.
Food will be served buffet style. Customers are served the portions that they desire, determining the amount of food they wish to eat and pay for, which encourages them to eat what they take. Experience at other flexible pricing establishments indicates that there is virtually no food waste generated in the dining room because the arrangement gives diners a financial incentive not to waste. At the One World Café in Utah, serving 150 patrons a day, only a few gallons of food waste is generated. The ethic of conserving is expressed and facilitated in the café environment. In addition, food waste will be composted and recycled, and minimal use of paper products and disposables will be practiced to reduce impact on the environment.
The menu at the café will be seasonal and flexible. The focus will be on simple, healthy fare including soups, salads, breads, simple entrees, and desserts. The menu will be culturally diverse and use locally grown and locally produced products whenever possible. We strive for creativity, customer input, and sharing of recipes and ideas.
The flexible menu will allow the staff to take advantage of special deals and donations of perishable ingredients. In-kind contributions made by food wholesalers are tax deductible. This will keep operating costs down and help maintain the bottom line.
Our goal is to have an organic community garden within walking distance of The Mustard Seed. The garden will provide fresh produce for the restaurant’s fare. It will also provide educational and training opportunities for volunteers and patrons who are interested in organic gardening.
Products and Services
The aim is simple: prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals that are affordable to most people by using unconventional but proven methods of operation.
The Mustard Seed emphasizes:
· Slow food, not fast food
· Unprocessed food and organic food whenever possible
· Seasonal, local foods whenever possible
· A wide variety of foods using recipes from different cultures
· Education about sustainable food and healthy eating
· A learning, training, supportive community
· Coffee, fresh roasted on the premises
The Mustard Seed will serve as a gathering place for people who not only enjoy good food, but also want to learn from one another. It can serve as a meeting place for local groups to plan and hold conversation at table while building community. Other possible uses of The Mustard Seed are concerts and exhibits for local musicians and artists, worship on Sunday mornings, Celebrate Recovery meetings, and other community missions. Our goal is to serve the needs of the community.
Current trends in consumer preferences include greater choice, healthier foods, lower cost of eating out, and ecologically responsible eating – the hallmarks of The Mustard Seed.
Growth potential is high. Diners will be attracted by the novelty of how this dining experience operates and the café’s uniqueness in the El Paso area. The cost of the experience is not prohibitive to anyone. People will be grateful for the opportunity to have delicious food that is good for them and good for the planet.
With a projected location in the Sunset Heights/Downtown area, the café expects to serve families and individuals including local residents, business people, students, and shoppers. Within a five mile radius of the targeted location area there are: the Downtown center, eight churches, the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry, the historic Segundo Barrio (62.1 % of residents live below the poverty level), the University of Texas El Paso, El Paso Community College – Rio Grande Campus, Lydia Patterson Institute, La Fe Preparatory, a number of other public and private schools, as well as eight El Paso Public Housing units.
El Paso residents living at or below poverty level in 2010 – 25.2%
El Paso County residents who are food insecure in 2011 – 20%
A location is sought in El Paso’s Sunset Heights/Downtown area. A restaurant ready venue is preferable. A facility of approximately ______square feet is desired. The main room, to be used for the dining area, will accommodate tables with seating for approximately 50 patrons. Projected costs for space include a projected rent of _________ per square foot and utilities averaging ________ per month. Ideally, no barrier walls will screen from view the food servers’ work area. Nothing will block the staff from the patrons, as the atmosphere of the dining experience is that we are all in this together.
The café will be a welcome addition to the food choices in El Paso. Currently there are relatively few eating establishments that promote healthy eating. The Mustard Seed will provide a niche market for those who are becoming aware and concerned about their health, the environment, and the community. The successful local farmer’s markets have helped to create an environment for and awareness of the importance of fresh, locally grown, seasonal food. In addition, the markets have created an appreciation for supporting local farmers and businesses. The Mustard Seed will build on this tradition.
Publicity and Promotion
Instead of paying for advertising, The Mustard Seed will generate mission-driven publicity. It will have the media contacts and goodwill of the community. It will execute a written plan of monthly news story angles to maintain high visibility in the community.
Promotions will include music events and benefits to get the public in the door and to increase the number of people who know about, patronize, and support the café. A website for the café has been developed and the use of social networking media like Facebook will also spread the word.
A Café card, flyers and other print materials will be utilized and distributed to local senior centers, colleges and schools, and other public gathering places. The City of El Paso has initiatives underway aimed at bringing more people downtown to live, work, and play. The Mustard Seed will benefit from and contribute to these initiatives.
Hours of Operation
The Mustard Seed will be open 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
Food preparation will be done on site. Coffee, tea, iced tea and filtered water will be offered on site. Other non-alcoholic drinks may be brought in by patrons, but will not be sold by the café. Experience at other community cafes has proven that serving drinks is costly and that most people do not factor the cost of their drink into their payment for the meal.
To be ecological, the café will not use disposable utensils, plates, or cups, except for take out. Take out customers will be encouraged to bring their own containers to minimize waste. Dishwashing will be done on site and an energy efficient dishwasher will be used.
The ambiance of the café does not require matching dinnerware. Most cups, plates, etc. will have been donated, thus supporting recycling.
Staffing and Scheduling
In addition to the full-time chef, the café will be staffed each day by a manager/volunteer coordinator and volunteers. The manager will come in at opening and stay until close of business, an eight-hour shift. The manager will always be present at closing to close out the cash box/register and to secure the cash. The managers are responsible for ordering food and supplies, scheduling café volunteers, overseeing facility cleaning, and customer relations. The manager will gather the volunteers at the start of each day’s shift, appointing their “volunteer supervisor” who can then manage the rest.
The café will recruit consistent, reliable volunteers who have demonstrated genuine love for God and for the people He created. Regular volunteers will work alongside of the patrons who choose to work for an hour so that they may receive a voucher for a meal. There will be another volunteer who serves as manager for the community garden.
The Board will maintain administrative oversight of the café/garden. It will develop all policies and procedures, hire and fire staff, supervise managers, manage The Mustard Seed Advisory committee, conduct fiscal oversight, etc. Advisory committee members are encouraged to frequent the café and address any issues.
Written job descriptions will be provided for on-site key employees as well as for volunteer and work exchange positions.
$12/hour for Chef - 9 hour daily shift - $540. weekly
$12/hour for Manager – 9 hour daily shift - $540. weekly
Our commitment will be to provide a volunteer opportunity to anyone who wants one, especially if it is for a meal. Specific opportunities for training and service include: food prep, serving, washing dishes, sweeping, bussing tables, host/hostess, operating POA (point of accountability cash box or cash register), cleaning, grounds maintenance, gardening, folding laundry, prayer, sharing the gospel, etc.
Through volunteer activities people who enjoy the food at the café will be able to give back, gain skills and access on the job training, enjoy community and a reference base. Volunteer positions will have written job descriptions and clear expectations so that volunteer efforts will contribute to making the organization effective and efficient.
Management and Organization
Christi and Adin Brown, Patsy and Trey Burdick, Stacey and Luke Lowenfield, Shelley and Terry Speicher
Board of Directors
Oversight of The Mustard Seed will be in the hands of the Board of Directors.
Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick, and Shelley Speicher
Professional and Advisory
A Cafe Advisory Committee will be established that will include members of the board, staff, volunteers, and community members/patrons. This committee will be established for advisory purposes and to help broaden the network of support to ensure success of the ministry. This committee may continue after startup at the discretion of the ministry leadership. We will look for in-kind contributions from professionals who share our vision:
Accountant: Shelley Speicher +
Bookkeeping, payroll, end of year audit
A separate bank account will be set up for all café financial activities.
Legal counsel for the café – Luke Lowenfield
Startup Expenses and Capitalization
Startup will include pre-development work by the Board to get the café up and running. Initial tasks include: identify a location, negotiate a lease, oversee any space modifications, develop a menu, purchase equipment, develop and finalize policies and procedures, hire/train staff and volunteers, plan and execute a preview of the operation, and launch the opening. It is estimated that the startup, pre-development phase will take from four to nine months.
The following equipment needed for startup can be secured through a variety of means including donations, used, or new equipment. The following cost estimates are based on cost for new items and those that can easily be secured through donation.
Startup Equipment/Supplies Estimated Cost
Coffee mugs Donation
Serving bowls Donation
Miscellaneous zests, graters, etc.
Gas stove and hood (if we can)
Stainless steel pots (durable and inexpensive)
Pie and Quiche Pans
Hand Mixer/Table Mixer
Buffet steam table $2,500
Soup tureens $500
Ice machine $2,000
Refrigerator and refrigerated $12,000
deli display cases
Convection oven/warmer-countertop $1,000
Triple Sink $550
Hand Sink $120
Mop Sink $100
Prep tables, countertops Donation
Coffee maker and set up $500
Café tables and chairs Donation
Cash box/register Donation/$400
Phone/internet line $250
Miscellaneous items $2,500
Coffee roaster Donation* (Steven Lama)
Equipment cost is @ ___________. Several months’ rent and security deposit (if necessary) secured up front will ensure an easier cash flow at startup. A total startup fund of _________ should cover the startup expenses. These funds can be secured through grant funding, private and corporate foundations, fundraising events, and from individuals who share The Mustard Seed’s mission of loving God and the people He created. El Paso area churches that share the mission may make contributions.
Research on the Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) method of pricing has shown that
PWYW may increase word-of-mouth marketing due to its novelty. Participative pricing increases consumers’ intent to purchase. “Fairness, satisfaction, and income are identified as positive drivers of prices paid.” In a study of the use of PWYW by a restaurant serving a lunch buffet, “Revenues are even higher with PWYW than baseline revenues using posted prices…” (J. Kim, M. Natter, and M. Spann) Journal of Marketing, Vol. 73 #1, Jan. 09.
Four Main Factors
Room size determines amount of seating. Hours of operation and amount of seating help determine the number of customers served daily. Number of people served per day, projecting average price paid, yields suggested price points for food items offered. These standard formulas of the restaurant business will be applied to measure and adjust our operations toward financial stability.