Sunday 22 October 2017

Honest punters boost novel cafe

A novel cafe that lets its customers name their own price is expanding after proving honesty actually does pay.

Dock Cafe, a faith based community coffee shop in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, does not rely on cash tills, and instead asks patrons to put whatever they feel is appropriate into their honest box upon leaving.

Originally opened on a pop-up temporary basis, the premises has now be trading for 15 months and has proved so successful that it has added an extension.

Church of Ireland minister Reverend Chris Bennett, who helps run the cross-denominational cafe along with counterparts from other faiths in Northern Ireland, described it as a "community living room".

"Overseas visitors who may not know what a cup of coffee costs over here, we might give them a suggested price, but 99 times out of 100 we just leave it to people's discretion whatever they think is a fair price," he explained.

"At the end of the day we always have a few fivers and tenners in the box and we don't really have anything in the coffee bar that would cost that, so some people are clearly paying above the odds.

"Some people pay below the odds too, but the great thing is we never know who pays extra or less.

"I think there's a real dignity in that.

"If you genuinely can't pay for a coffee then you are not made to feel bad while if you are really generous and give more, then it is quite humbling to just put something in the box rather than splashing the cash around."

The cafe overlooks the city's docks and sits close to the popular Belfast Titanic visitor attraction. But tourists are not its only source of income, as the shop also attracts many local people, with business men and women sharing space with students from the nearby Belfast Metropolitan college campus.

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