Everybody Eats to become NZ's first permanent pay-as-you-feel restaurant after successful crowdfunding campaign

Source: 1News

With just days left on their crowdfunding campaign, Auckland not-for-profit pop-up restaurant Everybody Eats surpassed its $120,000 target to fund the opening of a permanent restaurant.

Nearly a year after starting Everybody Eats back in June 2017, founder Nick Loosley decided to take the mission of tackling food waste and food poverty a step further.

He set-up a Pledgeme campaign in April with the goal of raising enough money to turn a weekly pop-up restaurant into a permanent one.

"Money is what we need, we've got all the other pieces of the puzzle somewhat sorted out, with money we can make it all come together and feed loads more people," he told 1 NEWS last week.

That last piece of the puzzle was put in place this week as they surpassed their $120,000 crowdfunding goal, setting them on track to open New Zealand's first permanent pay-as-you-feel restaurant next year.

But that's not all. If more than $130,000 is donated before Monday, they'll be able to open a one-off Everybody Eats pop-up in Christchurch to test the waters down south.

The not-for-profit pop-up restaurant was founded by Mr Loosley who wanted to tackle food waste and food poverty in New Zealand.

"We throw away around a third of the food that we produce, and one in six New Zealanders are going hungry.

"What Everybody Eats is about, is trying to tackle those problems and raise awareness to them."

In order to tackle those problems Mr Loosley and dozens of volunteers take food that would otherwise go to waste, turn it into a three course meal for about 250 people on a Monday night, serve that meal to customers from all walks of life, who then pay as they feel, even if it's nothing.

"We don't ask any questions of people and we don't have any really strict data, but we say that about 75 per cent of our customers don't pay anything.

"So the assumption is that they are struggling, suffering food poverty, a lot of them are homeless, substance abuse, mental health issues, and about 25 per cent of our customers do contribute."

The people who can pay, on average spend about $15, which means they raise anywhere between $500 and $1200 each week, depending on how many people come along.

The koha are used for costs like petrol, extra ingredients, equipment and takeaway containers.

For me food's the most powerful tool we have for bringing people together.

—  Nick Loosley

Mr Loosley doesn't pocket any of the money.

"A lot of our customers have never been to a restaurant before; they've never received table service.

"You can imagine what that feels like to feel equal to, not less than, and to be served with dignity and respect.

"It means a lot to them, it really does," said Mr Loosley.

Over the past year Everybody Eats has engaged with about 500 volunteers, who Mr Loosley hopes will continue helping out when they open a permanent space.

A head chef and restaurant manager will be permanently hired to run the Everybody Eats restaurant, but it will still largely rely on volunteers.

The Monday night pop-up is currently run out of the Gemmayze Street restaurant in St Kevin's Arcade on Auckland's K-Road.

But they plan to look outside the CBD for a permanent space.

"We're currently looking at places in Avondale and in Papatoetoe, places that are culturally diverse, socioeconomically diverse, and places where people have been feeling some sort of struggle for a while.

"We've found that those are the communities that really engage with and want to get involved with the concept."

Once it's a success Mr Loosley hopes to expand.

"There's no reason why there can't be a dozen or so Everybody Eats restaurants feeding communities within New Zealand in the next few years."