Trinity Cafe in Tampa serves homeless with style and dignity at new location

New digs an improvement over Salvation Army

TAMPA - Austrian born chef Alfred Astl had no jitters about opening day even with the clock ticking and a long line of hungry diners outside.

Instead, Astl was giddy about all the shiny new equipment in his kitchen at the new Trinity Cafe location on Nebraska Avenue in Tampa.

"For 12 years I've wanted lights to keep the food warm.  Finally it's like a Christmas present.  I got heat lamps all over the place," said Astl.

Volunteers and staff formed a circle for a quick prayer before opening the doors for the "guests" as they are called and as they are treated.

Unlike the stereotypical soup kitchen or sandwich truck, the Trinity Cafe offers the homeless a dignified restaurant experience.  They are served at the table with floral decorations, unlimited ice tea and live piano music in the background.
 
Staff and Volunteers at the Trinity Cafe have seen their work change lives.

"It make a huge difference in their lives," says board chairman Jeffrey Darrey. "We see people who go out and get jobs and find homes, come back and volunteer."

Keith Arnold is one of those formerly homeless guests who now serves.

"I noticed that there are a lot of people that actually care," said Arnold as he bussed dirty dishes during the lunch rush.
 
Over 200 people were served on Tuesday -- iced tea, salad, stuffed peppers with red sauce, vegetables, potatoes  and dessert.  Everything but a check.  

The cafe has it's detractors.  The surrounding V.M. Ybor neighborhood association tried to stop the project fearing their quiet streets would fill with homeless men.

It's too early to know how that will play out, but the Trinity Cafe says they want to be good neighbors.

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