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Fine dining

Gourmet soup restaurant start-up aims to benefit hospitality ministry

July 1, 2014

LOUISVILLE

As a new worshiping community, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Ministry (BSM) is no stranger to trying a different approach. Housed in a century-old church building, the community was formed in 2005 as a place of refuge for people who didn’t feel welcome anywhere else.

And while it became known for serving meals to those who are hungry, BSM focuses on hospitality and emphasizes that it isn’t a soup kitchen. In addition to serving 60,000 meals a year, BSM provides hygiene products and social services to more than 3,500 people.

Now, BSM — part of the Presbytery of Philadelphia — is again taking on a new venture: It’s aiming to be part of Philadelphia’s first crowd-funded restaurant that donates 100 percent of its net profits to a nonprofit.

Via a Kickstarter campaign running June 11-July 26, BSM and local restaurant Federal Donuts are aiming to raise $150,000 to start Rooster Soup Company, a gourmet soup restaurant whose profits will benefit BSM’s hospitality services. Using the leftover chicken backs and bones from Federal Donuts’ fried chicken restaurants, Rooster Soup Company will make chicken stock for soups.

“I’m really excited about this for Philadelphia because you walk past someone lying on the street and you feel helpless,” said the Rev. Andy Greenhow, BSM’s minister of stewardship, congregational partnership and belonging. “The appeal of this restaurant for me is you can make an impact by going out to lunch.”

BSM and Federal Donuts have a partnership that goes back several years. Motivated by a desire to learn about hospitality services from professionals, BSM formed a Hospitality Collaborative made up of local hotels and restaurant owners. Steve Cook, owner of Federal Donuts and several other restaurants in Philadelphia, serves on the board and originally suggested making soup to donate to BSM.

But leaders at the ministry wanted to avoid the perception of a soup kitchen with lines, trays and impersonal service. Guests at BSM are greeted by a maître d’, served by a waitstaff and eat healthy meals with silverware at tables with tablecloths.

So BSM leaders suggested that Cook open a restaurant instead and donate the profits.

Because it’s hard to get banks to loan money to a business intending to donate all its profits, BSM and Federal Donuts launched the Kickstarter campaign, which allows people to donate money toward the project in exchange for a sense of ownership.

“It’s not a contribution — you’re backing something,” Greenhow said, adding that millennials are more likely to give to a specific cause than they are to tithe. “If the church is going to continue in the 21st century, we might have to be more entrepreneurial.”

Donors also have the opportunity to win prizes, such as a Mad Libs-style letter of recommendation to the afterlife of your choosing, signed by a BSM pastor.

“You need to have some whimsy in your ministry,” Greenhow said.

So far, the campaign has raised $69,000. With just about a month left until the deadline, organizers are encouraging others to get involved. If they don’t meet their $150,000 goal by July 26, they won’t get any of the money already pledged.

“I watched with interest the General Assembly and I was interested in what we did in terms of divestment,” Greenhow said. “The exciting thing about this is that it’s a generative investment for the city, the church, for God’s children.”

To donate to the Rooster Soup Company’s Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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