Guest Blog Post by Caroline Daly
Calories don't count when they're for charity. This is what I tell myself every time I go to The Meeting Place because I can rarely resist a single thing on its comprehensive menu. In my nearly four months here in Cusco, I have yet to find a better brunch or more addictive milkshake. Aside from its fabulous food, what really sets The Meeting Place apart is it's whole-heartedly charitable business plan. This secluded food haven boasts giving 100% of it's proceeds to charity and is entirely run by volunteers. Having waited tables there myself, I can vouch for the unforgettable atmosphere created by like-minded people giving back to the community.
The Meeting Place's story begins four years ago when a few major events changed Scott Englund and his family's life forever and opened the door for an amazing opportunity. Englund, a seasoned motorcyclist, first began seek a lifestyle change while racing in Mexico. While riding through small, disadvantaged towns, he said "I looked around and realized that I could feed the entire population of these towns on the money that I was throwing away on motorcycling and it bothered me." Thanks to this nagging burden and a downturn in his former business, Englund found himself seeking other opportunities. That's when the family took their silver lining and ran with it all the way to Cusco, Peru.
Not one to stay idle, England created Moto Mission, a non-profit dirtbike tour company. He'd heard of a missionary who had started a non-profit cafe in Cusco and was looking for tips in operating a business in Peru. As fate would have it, the missionary had fallen on hard times and handed the keys to what would become not only The Meeting Place, but a language school and guest house as well.
Four years, many good reviews, and lots of hard work later, The Meeting Place is one of the most popular breakfast and lunch destinations in Cusco for travelers and Cusquenans alike. Despite it's success, it hasn't strayed from it's giving roots. The Meeting Place supports the worthy Altivas Canas Children's Project, which focuses on providing free care to children of single moms. "The focus of the project is to take the burden off the mothers" says Englund. More than thirty children are welcomed each day either in the morning or after school. They are fed a healthy meal, helped with homework, and entertained completely for free. Altivas' aim is to offer some relief of duties for single mothers so they have more time to spend with their kids.
If you're a Meeting Place first timer, you can't go wrong with a Scott Special and one of their famous milkshakes. With the Scott Special, you're in for an amazing combination avocado, cheese, ham, lettuce, and egg (check) all held together by a fresh croissant. My personal recommendation is a chocolate-Oreo milkshake with a shot of espresso. Though be forewarned, a weary traveler once ordered a milkshake and waffles with ice cream and found herself in such a blissful food coma that she had to lay down and take a nap on the restaurant's couch.
The Meeting Place is truly alive. It's charitable heart beats with the help of avid volunteers and there's rarely a time when it's not bursting with kind travelers in pursuit of some delicious comfort food. So next time you're in Cusco, don't miss out on The Meeting Place, both your tastebuds and the worthy children at Altivas Canas Children's Project will thank you.