Chef Dave Heide to open pay-what-you-can restaurant

Chef Dave Heide is holding a launch party for his newly-minted nonprofit Wednesday at his Oregon restaurant, Charlie’s on Main.

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Little John’s is a pay-what-you-can restaurant coming to Madison’s West Side. Heide was planning to announce the restaurant’s future location Wednesday at the event, but needs to put that off until his lease is finalized.

Heide filed his nonprofit paperwork Tuesday in order to hold the pop-up launch event.

The idea is to use grocery store food excess to create restaurant-quality meals. The food for both the restaurant and for the event is being donated by Metcalfe’s Market.

Heide’s nonprofit will offer military veterans a six-month, culinary training program and then employ them at the end. The program is designed to help veterans who have trouble finding jobs or assimilating back into society after their service, and also to address a lack of trained chefs in the Madison area.

The launch party is from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with live music from Lo Marie, and the restaurant’s speakeasy open for cocktails. Celebrations Entertainment will offer games.

The Hat Ladies are collaborating with Little John’s for the event, making hats on the spot on a pay-what-you-can basis. For every hat made, a second hat will go to someone in need through the homeless services agency Porchlight.

This event is free, but in the spirit of the pay-what-you-can model, donations are welcome.

Charlie’s on Main is at 113 S. Main St., Oregon. Heide also owns the Fitchburg Cajun and Creole restaurant Liliana’s.