New Plymouth church café gives away more than $100k despite offering free meals

A Taranaki café that boasts a mighty clientele has given away more than $100,000 despite opening for just one day a week and charging customers nothing.

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So far Cathedral of St Mary have given away more than $100,000. Source: Seven Sharp

The Cathedral of St Mary café is a popular spot for locals in New Plymouth and although hospitality has taken a hit over the past year, this servery is doing a roaring trade.

For a once-a-week offering, the customers are many.

“We get huge numbers through - 100-200 a day, sometimes more," says head chef Jennifer Smart.

“Everyone comes for the crepes and baked beans and sausages are having a comeback."

Each dish has a suggested donation of a dollar but no-one has to pay.

"Some walk out and give us $20, others give nothing, and that's fine."

And it’s not only the downtrodden and weary but the affluent and sociable too, who come to partake.

"We get everyone here, businessmen before they go to work, families young families,” Smart says.

"There was a couple who came in for years, he passed away, his widow comes in gets the same thing same seat, where they used to sit."

The adjacent cathedral has been closed since 2016 - the oldest stone church in New Zealand needs earthquake strengthening and repairs.

It'll take an almighty fundraising effort but the money raised in the church cafe has a higher calling.

"Every three months we choose several organisations to donate to,” Smart explains.

Those efforts totalling more than $100,000.