You can get a free meal this weekend.
Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., each Sunday until Feb. 23, WabiSabi is providing a Sunday brunch at Sabaku Sushi Restaurant on Center Street.
WabiSabi’s brunches are essentially a “pop-up” restaurant that takes place each Sunday from January through February, said Mel Gilles, WabiSabi’s executive director and brunch hostess.
The brunches are free or by-donation, open to the public, and entirely volunteer-run. Community members cook, serve, bus, and clean.
“Basically, we haul in a ton of thrift store stuff, round up volunteers, and run a free restaurant six times a year,” Gilles said.
For the two and a half hours each Sunday, volunteer servers visit with guests and offer them a choice of potatoes, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and oatmeal. Customers can sip lattes and Americanos while waiting for their meals to arrive.
“It’s has everything a great restaurant has, except it’s free,” said Hannah Boone who has enjoyed the brunches. “Going out for Sunday brunch is so nice, but it’s the last thing I can do on my budget right now. I can’t believe I get to go to this five more times. It’s a great way to get out and see people on a Sunday throughout the winter, and the food is amazing.”
The menu may change week by week.
“The menu has a sort of adaptability that’s wonderful,” said Holly Dinsmore, organizer of WabiSabi’s Winter Meals Program. “For instance, Red Rock Bakery stopped by with muffins, cinnamon rolls, and bread. So Marc, our pancake guy, made french toast until the bread ran out. You just don’t get that in a normal restaurant.”
This year represents a number of big changes for WabiSabi. Along with creating a new logo, launching a Web site, and refining their thrift store presence, the organization has opted to hold the brunches at Sabaku Sushi instead of the Youth Garden Project.
“We’re so grateful to Youth Garden Project for all of their support through the years” said Mandy Turner, WabiSabi’s program coordinator. “This is a year of transition, and it’s nice to try something new, and to truly give folks the restaurant experience while working towards realizing our vision of a Moab without need.”
While it is closed through Feb. 11, Sabaku has donated the use of their facilities for the duration of the brunches.
“I think people were a little uncertain about the location at first, because of the sushi factor. But the place just has such a good atmosphere. There was all the bustle and the energy of a hip urban diner, and yet it’s right down the street and you know everybody around you. It was like I was back in the city for a minute, and it felt great.” said Nara Bopp-Williams, WabiSabi’s Americorps VISTA volunteer.
“And there’s no sushi being served for brunch, just to be clear,” Turner said. “We’ll leave that to the Sabaku pros.”
Over the years, WabiSabi’s Winter Meals have seen a steady growth in attendance and popularity. The Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in 2013 fed over 1,000 people.
The WabiSabi crew had high hopes for attendance at the brunches. They were not disappointed: 135 people attended the first brunch, along with 15 volunteers.
This year’s series of brunches began Jan. 19. This first brunch coincided with the 10,000th person served a meal through the Winter Meals program since it began in 2006.
“It’s been such an incredible eight years. To have served 10,000 meals to the greater Moab community truly feels like a dream come true,” Dinsmore said.
The Winter Meals Program also includes the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Around 10:30 a.m., at the first meal on Jan. 19 cheers erupted as Christina King signed in at the front of the house. She was lucky customer number 10,000 and received a bouquet of flowers, along with a hug from Dinsmore.
“Here’s to 10,000 more!” Dinsmore said.
Community involvement is vital to the success of the event, Dinsmore said. WabiSabi is unable to accept food donations from individuals as everything served must be prepared in a commercial kitchen.
WabiSabi’s Winter Meals Program provides six free brunches to the community
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., each Sunday, until Feb. 23
Where: Sabaku Sushi Restaurant, 90 E. Center St.