Waldo County Woodshed expands into a ‘Pay What You Can’ Café

Paying it forward just another way in Waldo county
Mon, 10/03/2022 - 2:00pm

SEARSMONT—Waldo County Woodshed, a volunteer-run nonprofit that works to provide free firewood for people in Waldo County, is about to trade wood splitters for aprons for one night.

On Thursday, October 6, teaming up with Threshers Brewing Co. in Searsmont, the organization is aiming to put on a fancy dinner at the brewery for families who’d like a night out and for a price that doesn’t break the bank.

Dawn Caswell, Waldo County Woodshed’s treasurer explained: “Scott Bendtson, the owner at Threshers, had been to a ‘pay as you can’ restaurant out west and brought it up to our volunteers, thinking if we used Threshers’ kitchen, we could recreate the same kind of event here. Because we’ve done a lot of fundraising through Threshers, we considered this idea, We did some research. Nonprofits in Maine are only allowed to have 12 food events, so we’ve decided to host this inaugural event once a month.”

The idea is simple. There are no reservations. Any individual, couple, or family who arrives may sit down at a table adorned with a tablecloth and silverware and served family-style.

The menu planned for that evening will include non-alcoholic drinks, appetizers, soup, salad, a pork dish, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables,  a vegetarian lasagna, and dessert. At the end of the meal, there will be a box that accepts donations. It will be anonymous; no one will see what is going into the box and all proceeds will support Waldo County Woodshed.

“It’s an opportunity for people and families to get out for a nice dinner for an evening and pay what they want,” said Caswell. “Going out to dinner is a lot of money for people and if someone can’t afford to pay anything but really wants to come to this, there’s an opportunity to volunteer for an hour in the kitchen,” she said. “This will get you a meal.”

Caterers, farmers, cooks who work in commercial kitchens, and restaurant servers will provide the food and service in the front and in the back of the house. At this point, Caswell said they have one donation from a local butcher shop, but that the organization is looking for more local producers of produce and meat to sponsor products for this first event.

“We’ll have table cards that identify who is donating what and all of our volunteers will have nametags,” she said.

The first event, if all goes well, will springboard into a monthly event with different products and meat sponsors with the aim of the Waldo County Woodshed to ultimately create a year-round non-profit “Pay As You Can Café.”

“Getting the community out and being with each other is really our goal,” said Caswell. She added that if the idea takes off and they can get pop-up chefs to come in and do similar events, Threshers Brewing Co. may even have more ‘Pay As You Can’ dinners in the future.

The event will take place Thursday, October 6 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event will be first-come, first-served. To donate any food to the event, get in touch with Caswell at dawncaswell1@gmail.com

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com