What’s an open-face cheese sandwich or scrambled eggs on multigrain toast worth to you? Would you happily pay a few euros? A bill with two digits? Dare you leave nothing, having spent all your cash at the adjoining street market?
At TRUST—a serene, clean-as-a-whistle bistro tucked behind the bustling Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam’s multi-ethnic De Pijp neighborhood—the price is always right, since what you pay is entirely up to you. Both cash and credit card payments are taken anonymously, leaving serving restaurant staff blissfully unaware of the amount each customer pays for their fare.
As its name implies, TRUST is built on a unique business model based on a sense that everyone gives, trusting there’s always enough to go around. “Come As You Are, Pay As You Feel,” proclaims an exterior banner, a message reinforced by decorative floor tiles near a counter where you order from a menu with no prices. Splurge on dessert, linger over a second drink, or just fill up on soup and salad. Whatever you order, you’ll never exceed your budget, since you determine what you drop into the cash box or the amount you enter on the credit card machine.
While enjoying your meal, remember you’re being served by volunteers focused on delivering joy as well as mindfully prepared edibles. Founded in August 2013, the café is the collaboration of six friends from all corners of the globe, all in their early thirties save for one somewhat older baby boomer. Brought together by a common search for purpose and a determination to be “happy for no reason,” the six mesh a potpourri of spiritual thought systems ranging from Zen Buddhism to A Course in Miracles and Conversations With God to guide them in running TRUST. The result is a café that’s more about joy, kinship, gratitude and freedom from judgment and less about fine dining. “Think of it as the silent train compartment during morning rush hour,” the website suggests. “Work, read or just sit and enjoy.”
In four years, the restaurant has managed to cover costs, using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the Albert Cuyp market creatively and without waste. The price-free vegetarian menu is a simple, ever-changing affair featuring an array of breakfast dishes, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups and sweet treats. Volunteer staff trust that joyful work and the gratitude of the universe will turn it into a profitable enterprise in the near future. Let your conscience be your guide as you calculate not only what your meal was worth monetarily, but how to pay your gratitude forward.