‘Pay what you can’ restaurant set to open in Madison

‘Pay what you can’ restaurant set to open in Madison

If you live in Madison, you’ve probably heard of the restaurants Liliana’s and Charlie’s on Main. Chef Dave Heide owns both and named them after his own children.

Madison’s BEST has something good cooking up! A project in the works that you DO NOT WANT TO MISS. Watch #News3 tonight for this special story! Trust me. Watch. Seriously. THE best. pic.twitter.com/xPgsHlBtXT

— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) July 27, 2018

Now, he has a third child, who he calls “Little John”. Since he already has restaurants named after his first two kids, it only made sense to open a third named after his youngest. But this one will be much different than anything Madison has ever seen.

The restaurant will be a “pay what you can’ experience”. This restaurant isn’t open yet, doesn’t have a location or an opening day set, but it’s a concept that would fulfill Heide’s goal of doing something for a greater cause.

“Fifty percent of the food we create in the United States ends up in a landfill,” he said.

His goal is to take unused or wasted food from grocery stores each day and turn them into good meals. He wants to get food that isn’t necessarily bad, but just things they can’t put on their shelves anymore.

“We don’t want to serve bad food and we don’t want to have bad food, we’re just going to pick through. Think about an apple. We’re just going to cut out that one tiny dot and the rest of that apple is still an amazingly good apple,” he said.

The restaurant not only benefits the environment and helps cut down wasted food, but it also attacks other social issues like employing military vets who have a tough time getting back into the work force.

“Hey, you’ve got all these people who are looking for something like they can really feel like they fit in at and you’ve got this huge shortage in the restaurant industry. What if we could pair those two up?” he said.

Heide also added he hopes the vets employed at his restaurant will use this experience as a feeder job to get them ready for more advanced culinary positions in other restaurants. Once the first round of vets works their way through and they feel they’ve reached their peak, it will hopefully open the door for them to thrive in other restaurants. Then Heide can bring in a new set of vets to start the cycle over again. He added it would benefit both the vets and the restaurant industry, which is dealing with a shortage of chefs.

He calls it a “win-win”, adding those who choose to eat at this restaurant should leave feeling good that with every meal eaten at this restaurant, you can walk away knowing you helped train military vets in the culinary field, improved sustainability within the community, and helped cut down on food that would otherwise go to waste.

He also added there is something in it for customers, besides the luxury of paying what you can.

“The menu is going to change at least every week, if not every day,” he added. Not knowing what types of food he would get from grocery stores and restaurants, it’s hard to predict what the menu will consist of.

Heide said he’s also considering talking to other local chefs and having them feature an item on the menu every week with his new restaurant. Heide believes exposing other restaurants’ foods can help bring business to other places.

Heide also says he plans on expanding his services with a food truck at some point, providing meals to those in lower income areas and those who don’t have access to a ton of restaurants in their neighborhood.

He says many have supported his idea of opening this restaurant but are concerned about those who might take advantage of the system.

“Eighty percent of people that go to pay what you can restaurants end up paying what the original value would be or more. So the idea being, sure you will have somebody that comes in and scams but really, I guess I would say if anyone’s worried about the scamming part, then don’t come scam us,” he said.