OWASSO, Oklahoma - Imagine going to a restaurant and instead of having to pay a bill, you can choose to donate, or even eat for free.

After three years of feeding needy families this way, the OpenTable Community Cafe in Owasso is shutting down.

Three years, 17,000 meals - about one-third of those fed to people who really needed the help. But, the cafe has served more than food.

Director Melinda Foster said, "It's been more than just feeding people. It's also been building community."

The cafe is pay-what-you-can. Anyone is free to come eat, whether they can afford the meal or not.

"We have a lot of people who are out of jobs or who are veterans and disabled, we have people who are elderly and live on limited income, mothers with small children," Foster said.

The cafe also feeds students for free through a program called Youth Café, giving teens a place to hang out, play games, and even enjoy free Internet.

Last week, the cafe learned it would not get the grants it needed to stay open; so OpenTable will serve its last meal on January 28th.

First Presbyterian Owasso pastor, Natalie Bell said, "I think the community will really miss OpenTable Café. I think it's met a lot of needs - not just for hunger, but also for the community."

First Presbyterian Owasso will take over Youth Cafe, holding it at the church, so teens will still have somewhere to go.

But, after helping so many people for so long, OpenTable won't be able to support them any longer.

"It's sad, but we are very glad for all the work we've done, and for the people we've fed,” Foster said. “We cannot be unhappy with what we've done over the last three years, at all."

The cafe needs to raise about $15,000 in order to pay its employees and the rest of its lease.

If you'd like to help OpenTable Community Cafe meet its closing costs, you're encouraged to eat at the cafe or donate.

The cafe is located on 12650 East 86th Avenue in Owasso. Here are the hours:

  • Tuesday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday breakfast: 8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Youth Cafe Monday-Friday: 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

You can also donate online here or in person.