The words “church” and “business” are not typically associated with one another; but for Rev. Leah Reed (’08, ’11) and Dr. David With (’04), the marriage of these two concepts has created an opportunity to serve, connect, and contribute to the community of downtown Raleigh.
Reed and With are the co-creators of And Also With Cue, Raleigh’s first “give-back” food truck. In partnership with First Baptist Church (FBC) of Raleigh, And Also With Cue sells a variety of meats and sides to residents and employees in the downtown area. Of the profits the truck makes, a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding those in need for free.
The truck opened in October 2019, and was the product of individual dreams that both Reed and With had for combining faith and business in a meaningful way.
For Reed, it all started when she learned of a ministry in New York City that served soup and bread out of a school bus across neighborhoods in the city. While meeting the physical needs of residents was important, Reed was also inspired by the community the venture built.
“It was about inviting the community to come, to sit across the table and say ‘how is your day going?’”
Meanwhile, With was exploring a different side of the issue through his doctoral dissertation at Boston University, which focused on how churches could start and maintain for profit businesses. As a side business, he was also providing barbecue catering.
It was not long before a mutual friend of With and Reed decided to connect the two of them in hopes of merging their two ideas together. During a lunch meeting in downtown Raleigh, after discussing their respective passions for community, business, and barbecue, With and Reed came up with the idea for And Also With Cue.
When asked about their initial conversation, Reed states that “it was just instinctual…I felt like we really had something that we could make work.”
Armed with a church grant to accomplish “a big, missional idea,” the two embarked on their journey to merge the worlds of faith and business. FBC Raleigh covered the cost of the truck, while With took ownership of the business itself.
Once the idea was in place, Reed explained that it was important to identify who the truck was going to serve.
“We started with the question, ‘Who are our neighbors?’” Reed says. The answer was somewhat complex.
“On one hand, our neighbors are the people who live and work downtown; people who live in high rise buildings and work in the legislature” Reed explains. “But on the other hand, FBC Raleigh has a clothing ministry that has been working for 30 years in this area. Those people are our neighbors, too.”
The wide variety of downtown Raleigh residents forced Reed and With to find a business model that would meet the needs of all of And Also With Cue’s potential customers.
The solution to the challenge was multi-faceted. In terms of engaging downtown Raleigh employees, With explains that 85% of their customers are state employees.
“There is not much food within a couple blocks of here,” he explains, “so we’re attracting people we wouldn’t normally engage with if it weren’t for the truck.”
In addition the basic draw of a quick lunch break, With adds that there is something important about advertising to customers that “they are participating in something bigger than just their meal.”
The “give-back” portion of the business model rests on the FBC Raleigh’s long-running clothing ministry, which serves nearly 150 people a week, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.
After guests of the clothing ministry have finished shopping, they are given a lunch token, which they turn in at the truck for a free meal. Reed adds that she hopes as the business continues to grow, the method of meal delivery will expand into other parts of the downtown area, growing to include all residents.
“We try to do the whole thing with dignity,” Reed says. “We don’t want people to feel like they’re less than because they are getting a lunch token…you should have dignity through the whole process.”
Though And Also With Cue has only been open since the fall of last year, the model has been performing well. Between the opening day and the end of December, the truck fed close to 475 people for free; a monetary value of over $3,000. Both With and Reed are expecting even higher results once the weather is warmer.
In terms of long-term vision, Reed says she hopes And Also With Cue will be a ministry that goes on for many years, reaching parts and people in downtown Raleigh that are often overlooked.
With echoes Reed’s statement, adding that he hopes their business model can one day be something other churches can learn from.
“My motivation is to help the church fulfill their mission, and I would love to see other churches be able to use this experiment and replicate it to reach out to their own communities,” With says.
Both With and Reed attribute much of their calling and commitment to servant leadership to their foundation at Campbell University. For Reed, service at Campbell centered around her involvement with the Baptist Student Union (BSU), of which she was president for two years.
“That’s where I found community, support, and my passion for ministry” Reed explains, adding that to her, servant leadership is “trying to see Christ in every person… it’s a daily task, and we get up every day and do the best we can with what God gives us.”
Similarly, With sees servant leadership as “an occasion for grace, and providing an occasion for other people to share in that opportunity to provide grace.” His view of servant leadership was largely influenced by his role as men’s campus president during his time at Campbell, which he says allowed him to create spaces and opportunities for people to connect meaningfully.
Though both With and Reed admit that And Also With Cue was a leap of faith, they both emphasize how much the project has been teaching them already.
With says the process has given him hope for the possibility of merging the worlds of faith and business together in a way that helps others, explaining that the church’s willingness to “step into the broader world can help change communities.”
Reed agrees, stating that above all else, And Also With Cue has been a lesson on courage. “It’s taught me to step out boldly in faith. To take action when you feel like you have a calling.”
And Also With Cue is open Monday – Friday, 11 a.m until sold out, at 99 N Salisbury St., Raleigh.