An American style café may seem out of place on the streets of Cusco, Peru. That’s exactly why The Meeting Place, a 100-percent nonprofit café run by missionaries Scott and Teri Englund, is so effective.
The Meeting Place provides American-style service and food, including coffee, half-pound bacon-infused hamburgers, waffles and milkshakes. They also offer free WIFI.
“It is very rare to have a customer-focused business [in Cusco],” said Scott Englund. “We do everything we can in our power to make sure our customers leave with a smile on their face.”
Along with providing good food and good service, the Englunds have created a business model that gives 100 percent of the café’s profits to local Christian charities. The Meeting Place is almost completely staffed by volunteers (all except the chef). Scott Englund said that the volunteers help add to the atmosphere of the café, as everyone who works there wants to be there.
One such volunteer is Tyler Nunes, who volunteered at The Meeting Place while studying abroad in Cusco. A friend told Nunes about the café, and when Scott Englund invited Nunes to join the volunteer team, Nunes readily agreed.
“It’s a very welcoming place,” Nunes said. “I thought it was pretty awesome that they give 100 percent of what they make to local charities. A lot of places will give maybe 20 percent, but they give everything that they make.”
Nunes, who shares an alma mater with Englund -- Point Loma Nazarene University -- volunteered at the café from March until May, when he returned to the United States.
The Meeting Place is not the only ministry run by the Englunds. They also host a language school and a guest house, allowing them to welcome volunteers from all over the world. Recently, they also added MotoMission, a dirt bike tourism mission led by Scott. MotoMission is run off the same platform as the café; 100 percent of the profits go toward Altivas Canas Children’s Project, a local grassroots organization.
“I am a huge dirt bike rider…So I thought it would be a good thing to turn it into a mission,” said Englund. “Our goal is to make as much money as possible so we can build a facility for the project as well as develop an endowment fund to keep the monthly needs met for the lifetime of the project.”
Through the Meeting Place, the Englunds have been able to help numerous people in Cusco. One such person was Jason, a child in the community who was diagnosed with cancer. Although Jason eventually lost the battle, Scott was able to provide him with the blood he needed by asking customers to donate O+ blood.
“Without the café, I would never have had the opportunity to support Jason like that,” Englund said. “We are now very well connected to Jason’s family. It has been an emotional battle, but we are blessed to be part of their lives.”
According to Englund, the ministry of The Meeting Place has attracted visitors from all over – from backpackers stopping by to wealthy residents of Cusco looking for a new restaurant.
“If you’re going to go to Peru, if you’re down there for any reason, make sure you stop at their place…” said Nunes. “They love to have people from all over.”