York City's Healthy World Cafe closes

David Weissman
  • Healthy World Cafe embraced "pay-how-you-can" model, offering food in exchange for volunteer hours.
  • Cafe closing "due to unexpected staff changes and an ongoing operational deficit."

Healthy World Cafe in York City closed for good on Friday, according to an email message sent to friends and supporters of the establishment.

A crowd packs Healthy World Cafe during the restaurant's official downtown opening Monday, April 6, 2015. The pay-how-you-can restaurant announced its closing today. Bill Kalina photo

The "pay-how-you-can" cafe, which has been around since 2011, ended its run "due to unexpected staff changes and an ongoing operational deficit," according to the email.

Sarah Chain, board chair for the restaurant, said the board had been assessing operations since having to let the cafe's manager go in early February. The manager was the only full-time employee at the establishment, which also staffed a part-time assistant manager in addition to numerous volunteers.

Before relocating to its 24 S. George St. location to operate full-time last April, Healthy World Cafe was hosting monthly lunches at spaces including First Moravian Church.

"I wouldn't say it was a consistent struggle," Chain said of operating the cafe from a financial standpoint. "When we decided to open up full-time, we knew we had several different streams of revenue, including fundraising and grants, but the operational deficit in the cafe just couldn't be made up for in other ways."

Healthy World Cafe was originally scheduled to participate in Restaurant Week York, which concluded Saturday, but pulled out shortly before it started.

Chain said Friday had been difficult in communicating with all the cafe's supporters because of how encouraging they've all been since the start.

"We've had tremendous community support," she said. "We're proud of the impact we had on downtown York, helping build a sustainable community by providing nourishing food for all."

Healthy World Cafe was created to offer a space where everyone could come in and be treated equally, and it's also offered skills training to volunteers who may have not known how to cook, she said.

Chain added that the cafe will consider its options moving forward.

"A lot of people are seeking for it to continue in another manner," she said. "There's nothing definite, but because of the community support, we feel we owe it to them to consider the next steps."

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.