A unique new “pay what you can” food concept is hoping to call Lents home (a previously reported here on FosterUnited.) Organizers are busy with fundraising and gathering equipment, and there are a couple opportunities for interested neighbors to help bring this vision to reality. We sat down with Director of Operations/General Manager James Layton to find out more about what we can expect on the ground.
Helping to end hunger and food insecurity issues following the “pay what you can” restaurant model. Using, wherever possible, locally produced and sustainable ingredients that are healthy and nutritious. A model that builds community, offers a hand up and helps to end food waste.
-The Ne Si’Ka Mission
The proposed spot is known as the Oddfellows building, one of the oldest buildings in the Lents Town Center, next to Working Class Acupuncture.
Tell us the concept behind the restaurant?
We’re inspired by Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen. We want to focus more on what he’s doing than on what a lot of other community cafes or pay what you can restaurants are doing. A lot of those are only open from 10-2, and it’s much more cafe style. Typically you walk up and get your food and take it to your seat. That’s great, but we wanted to do something different.
People facing food insecurity, they don’t get that chance of where a server is coming to their table and get that whole dining experience. That was very important to us when we first started talking about it.
We don’t want a cafeteria line. We want people to dine with dignity. We want it to be a restaurant.
I can imagine that some people might have concerns about the potential to attract some of the homeless population to the Lents Town Center, and whatever issues they think might come with that.
From what we know from studying the other restaurants around the county, Nobody has every expressed an issue with that.
The majority of the homeless folks I’ve talked to have said ‘we know it’s a restaurant, and if I needed a meal I might go there, and if i had some money I would contribute something.’ If you treat people with respect, and if you humanize them, They’re going to treat you with respect and they’re going to treat your place with respect.
This is more about food insecurity than homelessness. Where the question is ‘do I pay rent or do I eat?’ A lot of people face that.
What does the Ne Si’Ka name mean?
Our name Ne Si’ka comes from the Chinook word meaning everybody/we/our/us.
What kind of food can we expect?
There will probably be about eight things on the menu that will always be on the menu. What those are, we’re not solid on yet. Everything else will rotate on a daily or weekly basis, based on food donations. We think people will like asking ‘what’s going to be there today?’
We are waiting on, what’s next?
We have been talking with Kevin Cronin [PDC] for like a month and he says ‘you’ve got to do the feasibility study first’. And it wasn’t until we got the application that we realized it was a reimbursement grant. At this point we’re like 9 grand short.
So how the Foster neighbors help you bring your vision to reality?
There are many ways to help:
Come to the Ne Si’Ka Fundraiser this Thursday
Thursday, December 12 at 6:00pm (Facebook Event Listing)
The Eagle Eye Tavern (92nd & Foster)
$20 suggested donation (Pay what you can, no one turned away)
The soirée (fancy word for party) at their future neighbor, the Eagle Eye features live music, DJ spinning, drink specials, massages by the minute, and a raffle tickets for Portland favorites the ROXY, Southland Whiskey Kitchen, and more!
Take the online survey to let them know what you want!
Let them know about food preferences, dietary restrictions, restaurant amenities and other community needs.
Contribute to the Ne Si’Ka crowd funding campaign
Cash donations will help fund a PDC suitability study for the site and help secure the lease for the building. A series of tasty rewards are offered depending on your donation level. ($40 will get you a tasty, hand delivered pie!)
Donate the items on their wishlist.
We are in need of any of the equipment on this list. Some of it is very specific and some of it is listed as just general need items. They are in no particular order, although most of the larger items are listed first. This is not a definitive list, all donations are welcome! Please remember that all in-kind equipment and service donations are tax deductible.