top of page


non-profit & pay-it-forward cafe


541 Barton St E, Hamilton ON

(289) 389-0541

Home: Welcome

Official Statement on our Temporary Closure

541 Eatery & Exchange is a faith-based non-profit organization that seeks to create a diverse community of belonging around good food at the table. We do this through our pay-it-forward cafe, youth programming, and volunteer opportunities. Every week, we serve hundreds of meals and bring people together around food, fostering connection and community care in the process. 


It has become clear in the last number of weeks that it is necessary to temporarily pause our operations in order to create an effective and sustainable model that ensures our long term engagement with our community and partners. This has been a difficult decision to make, as this means that we have temporarily laid off staff employed in our restaurant operations. Our youth program staff and fundraising assistant are unaffected by this layoff.


The climate and reality around us including the housing shortage, opioid crisis and mental health emergencies in our city have dramatically increased the volume and complexity of the needs of our community members. At the same time, food costs have increased and sources of funding have been changing.


We need to pause and re-evaluate our mission and purpose to ensure that our model is focused in the right areas, strengthen our relationships with our partners and look strategically for increased funding so that we can be a trusted, stable partner and advocate for those whom we serve. We also need to ensure we put the right procedures and systems in place to ensure we are caring for and resourcing our staff well. 


This work in the coming weeks and months will involve strategic planning, consultation with employees, volunteers, stakeholders and community members, and the development of policies to better support staff & volunteers. 


We recognize that our continued closure has led to a gap for the community members who rely on 541 for food and connection every day. We have retained our Youth Program staff during this time to ensure programs for youth in our neighbourhood are not impacted by the closure of restaurant operations. We are also seeking creative ways to partner with community organizations who could benefit from the use of our space and provide services to our friends & neighbours. 541’s facility is also available to rent for special events and community groups. 


At our core, we believe everyone deserves dignity and that loneliness and disconnection can be countered with being welcomed around our tables. 541 will rebuild and re-open, and we will remain a place where our friends & neighbours can gather around the table for years to come!


We anticipate a gradual re-opening starting in the fall. In the meantime, thank you for your understanding and your support at this time.


If you have any follow up questions or thoughts, please contact Executive Director Justin Eisinga at or 905-518-2468.


541 Eatery & Exchange Board of Directors

Chris Wignall, Chair

Barb England

Miranda Crocket


541 is a café rooted in the belief that everyone deserves access to good food. We create opportunities for people to help others pay for their meals by "buying buttons". Each button is worth $1, and anyone can use up to 5 buttons a day to buy whatever they would like from our menu.

We believe there is dignity in choice, that warm hospitality reminds us of our value, and that a diverse community can be built by sharing a table.

We use our space and proceeds from food sales to host free community groups and youth programming.

Home: Who We Are



As a non-profit community space committed to making our food affordable, we rely on donations to keep our space open! 

If you would like to make an online donation, please visit our Canada Helps page through the button below. 


Help someone pay for their meal by buying buttons! Keeping our button jar full means that we can feed the folks who most need good meals and a caring community.

Buy buttons by making a donation on Canada Helps and adding "for buttons" in the message box.


541 has a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers who participate in everything from customer service to dishwashing to food prep!

Currently, our weekly volunteer positions are full, but we are always looking for folks who are available to be on-call volunteers in both the kitchen and eatery!

Home: What We Do



Thanks for submitting!

Home: Contact
bottom of page