In the Beantime Cafe owner Campbell McIntyre offers a helping hand to people in need because he believes local business owners have a responsibility to try and give back to the community.

In the Beantime Cafe owner Campbell McIntyre offers a helping hand to people in need because he believes local business owners have a responsibility to try and give back to the community.

Pizza place prompts idea for helping hand

Marbles help provide food for those in need

Rick StiebelThe Chronicle

An article about a New York pizzeria helping those in need motivated Campbell McIntyre to start something similar in Ladysmith.

“Customers who wanted to help at Rosa Pizza would pay ahead for a slice,” said McIntyre, owner of In the Beantime Cafe on High Street for the past 10 years. “They put up a bulletin board that filled with vouchers for a slice of pizza for people down on their luck, no questions asked, no embarrassing need to explain. I thought that was a great idea,” he said.

McIntyre came up with a system for his business where customers can help out by buying marbles – a clear one for a cup of coffee and a blue one for a cup of soup – for two-thirds of the cost, with In the Beantime covering the balance.

He contacted the Ladysmith Food Bank and the local emergency shelter to help spread the word.

Discretion is a key component of what appealed to him about the idea, and he has trained his staff to take a “no questions” asked approach.

“People can be in a tough situation and embarrassed to ask for help, whether they’re wearing a three-piece suit or an old sweatshirt,” MacIntyre added.

The popular cafe has given out $1,500 worth of coffee and soup since he got the marble rolling last year, and McIntyre is happy to say that no one has abused the process.

“It’s worked really well so far,” he said. “It’s very rare to see the jars empty. The staff has really bought in and we’re all happy to be a part of this. There’s a responsibility for local businesses to give back, even more so in a small town.”

Launching a new venture, the Oyster Bay Cafe, at the Ladysmith Maritime Society and Marina, has kept McIntyre busy. The cafe is open four days a week between May and September.

“Getting the new place up and running smoothly has taken a lot of time, but I’m looking forward to next season already,” he said. “The off season will give me a chance to come up with something similar to our marble system at that location.”

Check out beantime.ca for a look at the menu and upcoming events.