Turning Tables

Words by Maggie Gediman

I was covered in sink water and leftover soup. Thankfully, the shirt that The Table provided protected me from the splashing water flying off the dishes.

Laughter echoed through the kitchen, bouncing off the tile floors and stainless steel ovens. In the back, a worker nicknamed “Money” was systematically washing, scrubbing, and disinfecting the dishes. He bumped his head up and down as he rapped along to music from his headphones. His singing filled the room, mixing with the clanking of pots and pans like a               kitchen orchestra.

As my fellow reporter, Mattie, and our photographer, Noah, washed the dishes, the mountain of plates, silverware, and kitchen equipment slowly dwindled down to a smaller pile. Eventually, there was nothing but an empty counter. All of the previous work was worth the tasty reward of my melty grilled cheese sandwich paired with The Table’s signature parmesan-sprinkled fries, free of charge.

The Table is a local non-profit restaurant devoted to providing locally grown food to the people of Louisville. To satisfy their mission to serve, share, support, and provide, The Table uses methods of paying tailored to the customer’s needs. These four methods include options to pay what you can afford and then pay the rest through service, pay the full amount of the meal price like a traditional restaurant, pay more than the suggested amount to pay it forward for the next customer, or pay it forward for someone else through your service, whether that be by sweeping, washing dishes, or helping in the kitchen.

Though the restaurant was started through the Church of Promise, their day-to-day operations are not inherently religious; The Table has become a hub for the Portland community. Some people only think of Portland as being a crime-ridden area, but The Table is working to replace these negative images by showcasing Portland’s lesser-known but rich culture,       diversity, and generosity.

“We have people that live in the community, we have people that work in the community, we have people from downtown, we have people that might be homeless. You just see all people gathered together in one room that normally probably wouldn’t be around each other,”                     Tara Mattingly, the Front of House Manager at The Table, said.

Inspired by the food insecurity in the area, The Table has made an effort to serve while building relationships with the people through their volunteer process. The Table has found a new way to provide affordable food for the Portland community.

“There’s a lot of soup kitchens around Louisville but here, you get to build a relationship with those people,” Mattingly said. “You get to work side by side with them, you get to find out about their life and you get to share life.”

Normally, restaurants are merely a business interaction between customers and the restaurant, but at the Table, there’s much more than that. Their mission isn’t to make money. Their mission is to serve and support the community. The Table certainly shaped our outlook on how restaurants operate.

We left the Table with full stomachs and a sense of accomplishment. Our backs ached from all the washing, sweeping, scrubbing, and drying. However, none of us complained. The food and inviting aura of The Table made the whole                experience worth it.