JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — After ten years of providing meals to everyone regardless of their ability to pay, One Acre Café’ in Johnson City is closing its doors.

Founder and Executive Director Jan Orchard made the announcement Friday afternoon citing several reasons that led to the decision to close.

The cafe’s final day of operation will be Friday, May 12.

Since it opened on December 3, 2013, One Acre Café offered restaurant quality lunch fare, prepared with local-sourced ingredients and served by volunteers with a price suggestion instead of a bill at the end of the meal. Those unable to pay were invited to work at the restaurant in exchange for food, and guests were invited to “pay it forward” if they had enough resources to help others.

In a news release, Orchard said that the unique model of offering meals to the community has faced significant challenges in recent years.

“Unfortunately, since the onset of the pandemic, we have continued to find it challenging to sustain the mission of One Acre Café,” Orchard said. “Continuing road construction, difficulties in securing staff that share in the mission, rising food and operational costs, and overall funding issues have led to this difficult decision.”

One Acre Café’s location on West Walnut Street was part of the reason for the closure, according to founder Jan Orchard to cited road construction as one of the reasons for the difficult decision to permanently shut down. (WJHL Photo)

The road construction on West Walnut Street where the City of Johnson City continues a multi-million dollar corridor redevelopment has made access difficult to One Acre Café and other businesses along the street.

“We understand the importance of the café as it pertains both to providing a safe space for so many of our neighbors and for the consistent, healthy food options it has provided over the years,” Orchard said. “We are saddened to have to close our doors and leave this gap in our community.”

Orchard said plans are in the works for a celebration of the cafe’s decade of service, and she said there’s hope that the One Acre Café’s mission can continue in some form.

“We are exploring potential partnerships and funding opportunities that could allow the mission that was begun by One Acre to continue,” she said. “Until then, we encourage our community to continue supporting local farmers and producers and to advocate for policies that prioritize access to healthy food options for all.”