Kansas City parish opens Thelma’s Kitchen “donate-what-you-can” restaurant ministry

Kansas City, Missouri, August 21, 2018

Thelma's Kitchen Facebook Thelma's Kitchen Facebook

A new ministry of St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America) in Kansas City, Missouri was officially launched last Thursday, August 16.

The “bread breaking,” or grand opening celebration for Thelma’s Kitchen, a “donate-what-you-can” restaurant was held that day, with Hieromonk Alexii (Altschul) and Fr. Justin Mathews speaking, Fr. Justin writes on his Facebook page.

The restaurant had a “soft launch” a month before, and in that time it has already become a beloved restaurant and “gathering place.”

Thelma's Kitchen Facebook Thelma's Kitchen Facebook

One customer review reads: “The food is very tasty, the place looks nice, but their mission is by far the most important and best part—and the reason that I will gladly stop by for lunch many times.”

This new mission is named in honor of Matushka Thelma (Michaila) Altschul, who, along with Fr. Alexii, founded Reconciliation Services to help the physical needs of the community near the troubled area of 31st and Troost, which gradually grew into an Orthodox community that became St. Mary of Egypt Church. The ministry began when the couple opened their home to the poor, addicted, homeless, and hungry.

The website for Thelma’s Kitchen says of her: “Caring for her neighbor and sharing what she had came naturally to Thelma. Even when she only had a little, she would offer what she could. Love of neighbor was what drove Thelma ‘Matushka Michaila’ and her husband Father Alexii Altschul to begin their outreach work and acts of mercy … over 30 years ago.”

Though Matushka reposed in 2012, after which her husband took monastic vows, Thelma’s Kitchen is following in her footsteps, offering high quality meals for donations of time or money.

The menu at Thelma’s Kitchen changes daily. A sample menu includes:

               Soups: Famous Shredded Potato & Cheddar; Mexican Tortilla ​

​               Salads: Cherry Tomato and Basil; Tossed Salad; Roasted Eggplant​

​               Sandwiches: Turkey, Salami & Mozzarella Panini; Chicken Salad on Croissant

​               Entrees: Italian Sausage w/ Peppers, Onions & Potatoes​

​               Desserts: Blondies, Tiramisu

Though there is a suggested donation of $10 for large meals and $7 for small meals, the restaurant operates on a “donate-what-you-can” basis. This allows for the poor, homeless, and hungry to enjoy a warm meal in a warm setting.

Guests can also donate half an hour of work in exchange for a meal or donate extra money towards someone else’s meal.

Dave is a daily customer at Thelma's Kitchen. He sticks around to help wash the dishes after his meal. Photo: Thelma's Kitchen Facebook Dave is a daily customer at Thelma's Kitchen. He sticks around to help wash the dishes after his meal. Photo: Thelma's Kitchen Facebook

The cafe is funded by Reconciliation Services in partnership with the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Village Presbyterian Church and is staffed by volunteers who are encouraged to chat and eat with the customers in an effort to build a greater sense of community.

“Troost has been this historic racial and economic dividing line as we know. If you’ve grown up in Kansas City, you know about 31st and Troost. But our challenge with Thelma’s Kitchen is to begin to unpack our family stories together,” Fr. Justin Mathews explained to Fox 4 News.

Donations can be made to support this new ministry at the restaurant’s website.

You can also learn more about Thelma’s Kitchen at their Facebook page.

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