Polk County's only "Pay What You Can" cafe closes

The Bartow restaurant is still seeking donations of equipment and food.

BARTOW, Fla. -- Polk County's only "Pay What You Can" cafe is closing it's doors. Mosaics Community Cafe in Bartow asked customers to donate what they thought their meal was worth, and if they couldn't afford it, they could volunteer.

“I do not believe in giving out handouts and just putting band aids on people's problems,” founder Libbie Combee said. “Everybody can give something.”

The restaurant has been open for about a year. Unfortunately, Combee said the cost to maintain the building was too high, and the support from the community was too low.

“It wasn’t a failure,” she added. “It was the location.”

The café might be shutting down, but Combee knows when one door closes, another door opens. In this case, quite literally.

She plans to open up a new restaurant in Lakeland or Winter Haven. She’s even open to starting franchises in other parts of the state and country.

For now, Mosaics in running pop-up restaurants in different locations throughout the county. Combee would like to do that every day for the next year or so, until the permanent location is open.

Volunteers who helped Combee pack up the restaurant Friday are sad to see it go.

“I hate it, but it's a good thing for somebody else,” Beverly Daughtry Sims said. “It'll help somebody else.”

The cafe is accepting donations, whether it's equipment or money. They'd really like to get a food truck. To find out how you can help, visit Mosaics Community Cafe's Facebook page.


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