MEDINA — Two parts turkey, one part potato fries and a dash of spirituality made for a delicious pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Cups Cafe on Wednesday.
The third annual turkey dinner was free for about 100 people who showed, but that was nothing unusual because coffee, juice and food are always free at the nonprofit café, Executive Director Tim VanArsdale said.
“Everything offered here is offered freely, so doing a turkey dinner was a natural fit,” he said. “I think we started the first year not so much to meet a need, but because we love serving. Plus, it’s fun to cook, open your doors and let people in.”
Some of the people eating turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes said they came because they were down on their luck, but many were teens hanging out with their friends.
In fact, Cups Cafe, 126 N. Court St., is aimed toward giving teens and young adults ages 12 to 25 a place to meet after school and on Saturday afternoons and evenings.
A Christian organization, the idea is that teens might not walk through church doors, but they will go into a coffee shop.
“Jesus Christ is really who drives this,” VanArsdale said. “We want to be living witnesses, not just people thumping Bibles, but people demonstrating faith.”
Nelson Hoff, 16, of Medina, said he pops into the cafe a few times a month, usually in the winter.
“It’s a relaxing place where I can get out of school, do my homework and hang out,” he said.
It is run by about 40 volunteers, most of them from local churches. Sometimes people doing court-appointed community service work at the cafe, VanArsdale said, although volunteers must pass a background check.
The cafe opened as Cafe 41:11 in November 2007. At the time, Cafe 41:11 already was an established nonprofit with locations in Norton, Stow and Dalton, but VanArsdale said it was decided that once its contract was up, the Medina location would step out on its own.
“We wanted this to be a Medina ministry with a local board of directors,” VanArsdale said, adding donations also stay local.
The cafe opens at 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closing at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday and 6 p.m. on other days.
It also will host a holiday dinner 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 16.
Cups Cafe doesn’t have a cash register, but VanArsdale said the cafe hasn’t missed a rent payment yet.
“My philosophy is, if God wants us to be open, we’ll be open,” he said. “And if he wants us to close, I’ll go sell shoes.”
Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.