Living in the city’s Versalles section for a couple of years and now in its´ Palo Seco neighborhood has taken me past NOAH’S CAFE BAR on one stroll or another countless times, but this stroll down Calle Aldanaca toward the sunny little eatery just off Francisco Villa had a special purpose.
You see, word on the Internet superhighway was this this popular lunchtime destination had somehow managed to keep their primary business thriving while still showcasing the…three times a week, NOAH’S CAFE BAR will be opening its kitchen to the community’s families with a full breakfast provided absolutely free of charge.
This is exactly the level of dedication to the community that will be absolutely necessary to bring this city through a time of crisis, and so my lifestyle scouting duties brought me over to Noah’s to get a word with owner Valerie after the community kitchen stopped serving for the day.
I had been parked at a properly distanced table for about 5 minutes sipping my cold Coron–um, national Mexican beer when Valerie appeared from the back of the house, a turquoise face mask barely concealing a genial expression (and coordinating with an eye-catching circular pendant, by the way). ¨You must be AJ.¨, she smiled.
She was right, I have no choice but to be…I have fun doing it, at least.
Still, this wasn’t about me, this was about the restaurant’s decision to step into the fight to support our city through uncertain times…a choice Valerie, a longtime native of Puerto Vallarta, made sound incredibly simple: ¨I just saw the need and felt like I had to help. We know so many people in town, customers and just people who live in the neighborhood…these are hard times for everyone.¨
Around this time, the restaurant’s namesake, a lad of maybe 11, made a cameo, greeting me warmly by looking up a bit from his Game Boy on his way upstairs to the living area.
This gave me cause to wonder aloud what the city’s many parents are doing with their children in the total absence of school or community programs, and I almost regretted raising the question as Valerie’s heart visibly broke. ¨It’s part of why doing this is so important to me…I know the lives of families in the area are hard on a regular basis, and now you have children at home all day, bored and hungry…I want to make their days easier when I can.¨
Her commitment to making every day a little better manifested itself for my enjoyment in the form of a surprise chicken club, compliments of the house. While I stuffed my face appreciatively with the bacon-laden sandwich, she had time to explain her cost outline as she motioned to an employee for another round of beers..
¨What surprised me is how many people we manage to feed on our budget…we manage to feed 150 people per day at an average cost of about 25 pesos per meal.¨
¨This is great mustard.¨ I contributed honestly, mouth only half-full.
¨It is, we try to get the best ingredients possible, my mother is an amazing shopper.¨ Valerie explained….it reminded me of my own mommy, an incredible shopper in her own right who I hope is holding up okay as she’s reading this (I know she does, she always does).
Valerie took another sip of her bottle as she ran the numbers in her head.
¨Last week we kept our costs under 8,000 pesos and were able to make some extra plates, which is good because some households can only send one person out while the children are at home. I keep careful track of costs because I want to show other restaurants that this is possible…the food banks will not be enough and local businesses should step up and help. It is all of our concern, these are our neighbors.¨
Just then, the only other patron of the café, a sidewalk diner by the name of Sherry, overheard our conversation from approximately 3 meters away and produced two 500 peso bills from her purse. ¨It’s not much, but I want to help.¨, Sherry said meekly.
My sandwich finished, it was time once again for me to do whatever it is I do. ¨Oh no no no my friend!¨ I bellowed. ¨What you have done here is feed 50 families…more of you, please!¨
Everyone left feeling a little better…it’s just what happens when a community comes together.
Join the fight to support our community by contributing to this community kitchen:
Deposito Banamex: 5204 1673 7410 6995
Donaciones via PayPal: paypal.me/vallartaval