Concordia University - The People’s Potato

Communism might still be around if these people had been in the kitchen; they sure know how to cook


The People’s Potato has decided to take a different approach to the standard model of the university cafeteria. Really different. The place, which bills itself as a vegan soup kitchen, is run by happy student revolutionaries, and is dedicated to such goals as “worker empowerment,” “creating a non-hierarchical, supportive work place” and “building alternatives to corporate-dominated capitalist methods of doing business.” All that, and hey, they also know how to cook. Really well. Communism might still be around if these people had been in the kitchen.

Located on the seventh floor of the oppressively massive Hall building on Concordia’s downtown campus, the People’s Potato offers a strictly vegan menu that consists of a soup, a vegetable entree, grains and a salad. The cafeteria operates Monday to Friday, from 12:30-2:00 p.m., and works on the “pay-as-you-can” principle. How much does it cost? You decide. There is no set charge for the meals but patrons are encouraged to make a donation to help support this not-for-profit organization(which is also partly funded by fees paid by Concordia students). I paid $5. Others paid a loonie, a toonie or nothing.

Key advice: get there early. I climbed the multiple escalators up to the seventh floor of the Hall building and arrived at 12:15 to find about 40 people already patiently waiting in line for the soup kitchen to open. As time passed, the line grew exponentially behind me. The People’s Potato is not a well-kept secret. A little after 12:30, one of the workers came out and enthusiastically told us the day’s menu, explained the pay-as-you-can principle, and started serving.

Compared to the standard university cafeteria fare, it was impressive: a spicy spinach soup, a vegetable curry, couscous and seasoned asparagus, with orange wedges for dessert. The meal was delicious(particularly the asparagus)and the staff were exceptionally friendly. All in all, a great experience, with the only detraction being the length of the wait. Reminiscing about my own university dining choices, way back in the late 1990s, I seem to remember the mealtime options being pretty simple: chicken ramen or beef ramen. Kids these days.

— Geoff Clifford