She and her husband opened a small cafeteria-style steakhouse in a small town about 35 years ago. She ran it with her husband until his death six years ago. Now she runs it with her children. While steak dominates the menu, there are also items that reflect her native Greece.
It is, what is sometimes referred to as a "dive". The furnishings look like they have never been replaced. The building is old. The prices are cheap and the food is wonderful. It is not unusual to have to stand in line for awhile before you can place your order.
It is a no frills place. You grab a tray, place your order and move down the line toward the cash register while your order is being prepared to order. If you ordered a dinner, you can grab a simple lettuce salad or a bowl of homemade soup. It is extra if you want to add sour cream to the massive baked potato and of course, there is baklava or pie for desert if you are so inclined.
The owners have always been very generous with the food. The 10 ounce steak looks to be far more than that. Sometimes they scowl at it and pile on some more meat. The same is true if you order a gyros or some french fries. No one leaves this place hungry...unless they want to.
One of the unusual things about this place in this day and age is that they do not take credit or debit cards. They will take a check from you but otherwise it is strictly cash. They have signs on the outside as well as the inside that clearly state that but sometimes someone misses the signs. That happened to the family behind me this evening.
As I was waiting for my dinner to be plated, I heard her say, "I'm sorry, we do not take plastic. There is an ATM at the end of the block."
The man looked stunned for a moment and a bit embarassed that he had missed the sign but before he could say anything she said, "That's okay. You stay here and eat your dinner. I will give you the receipt and you can pay me later. If you pay me tonight that is fine but if you can't, you can pay me the next time you see me."
I wish you could have seen the look on the faces of that man and his wife. He began to blubber something about being sorry about this when she interrupted him by saying, "Don't be sorry. You are not the first person it has happened to and you won't be the last. It was just a mistake, that's all." She nodded towards me and my husband.
"They have been coming here for many years. Ask them and they will tell you they have seen it happen before and that it is okay."
We laughed and affirmed that it was so and so did they.
I do believe that she got some new returning customers tonight.
As I ate my dinner later, I thought about what had taken place. It is something that I had sometimes seen done during my childhood but I rarely see it today. Typically, in a situation like this, the customer would have been turned away until they brought back cash but not at this place.
She cared more about her customers than she did about getting paid. She had no guarantee that these people would ever return though watching their reaction, I believe they will. Yet despite that and the fact that they were strangers, she extended them both the same mercy and grace that she would have extended to someone like me who has been coming in for years.
Am I willing to do the same?
I know this is not what you were trying to get out of this blog but this line hit me... No one leaves this place hungry...unless they want to.
we will always remain hungry if we refuse the good food offered to us. I wonder what our good foods are ?