Hopeful Grounds Offers 'Pay as You Go' Pricing

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A new coffee spot is open for business in Atlantic City, but it’s being run a little differently than most.

The special café is giving the community hope through nothing but a cup of coffee.

“We’re not trying to be a business, we’re just trying to be a blessing, trying to care for our neighbors any way we can,” says Mike D’Aquilante, director of facilities for Hopeful Grounds.

Hopeful Grounds is offering cups of coffee for free — or in exchange for a donation — no strings attached.

“And anybody that comes through our doors, we’re not checking I.D.s, we’re not doing background checks, it’s — you want a cup of coffee? You want a pastry? Have a seat, hang out for a little while,” says D’Aquilante.

The “pay what you want, pay what you can,” shop suggests a donation if residents can afford it.

If not, no questions are asked.

We’re not trying to be a business, we’re just trying to be a blessing.

“Oh, it’s terrific,” says Duke Del Champain, a frequent customer. “It’s like a homey Starbucks. They’re more friendly than Starbucks and it’s a lot cheaper too.”

“We’ll have people come in off of the streets that I won’t see at the mission. They’re just in the community and I just get to hang out with them,” says Shelby Boggs, operations staff member for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

"Give them a cup of coffee, tea, a pastry, and really connect with them,” says Boggs.

The café is a program of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

Volunteers don’t ask for donated funds, but instead, donated supplies.

The idea for a “pay as you go” shop came to life after some brainstorming with Stockton University students.

The doors are open Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the intention of expanded hours in the future.

“We would love it to be a place that people come from the community and just spend time here,” says D’Aquilante. “Kind of just break down the walls between who needs mission services, who needs other services, and who is just a community neighbor.”

“It’s hope,” says Boggs. “It’s hope for the community, and even, it’s encouraging for me too; it’s hopeful for me to see that we’re capable of doing this.”

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