Every Thursday is Thanksgiving at Three Bags Full Cafe. I don’t mean we serve turkey and all the trimmings, I mean we show our gratitude. Many years ago, long before I arrived on the scene, John, the owner began opening the cafe’s doors to anyone in need of a hot meal on Thursdays. It started with Thanksgiving Day back in 1995 and has been a weekly tradition since. According to John it doesn’t have to be November to celebrate good eats, each other and count our blessings.
Our Thursday tradition goes like this: John asks folks to pay whatever they can afford for their meals and a bill is just a formality. Some choose to pay full price, and even a bit more while others pay a buck. John has earned his place in heaven according to the town’s people. He must take a hit, but he doesn’t see it that way. Just a few days ago, he had a local contractor in to take some measurements via his new 3-D Scanner to see about enlarging the dining room. He explains that it’s a way he can give back and not make a big deal.
From what I’ve witnessed it is a big deal to a lot of people. The people who come in are from every financial strata. We have Harry the Hobo who rides the rails and passes through town every once in a while and stops in for a burger. I wouldn’t be surprised if he times his visits to coincide with Thursdays.
He apparently let the word out, but surprisingly we haven’t been swamped by the Railers aka Hobo Sapiens. It wouldn’t matter, John would welcome them all with open menus. We have Katy, who works at the bank as a teller, come in with her two young boys. Being a single Mom with a meager income, Katy always comes through the door with a big smile and a sense of relief on her face. She often leaves a few dollars when she can to show her appreciation. Then there is Alfred, a widower who always pays for two meals even though he barely eats one.
It seems every Thursday comes with a surprise. We have our regulars and a few new faces, but there’s more. A sense of community naturally emerges from the cafe that is more typical to that one day of the week. We realize we are the neighborhood go-to breakfast and lunch diner, but on Thursday we are the safest place in town, too. Safe to get nourished, belly and soul. No one judges, no one has any trepidation about getting the fries with their burger or dessert at the end of a meal. Freedom to eat well, and feel nourished all because Three Bags Full Cafe cares.
So it’s Monday morning and that means it’s order day. After last Thursday and a busy weekend, the cafe’s supplies are low. I work with Billy and Sonriendo to put the food order together. My focus is primarily the dining room, but it helps the guys in the kitchen if I add my two cents. The truth is, we also tend to take a little extra time to check in with each other to see how it’s going.
We work as a family and are proud, and in-line with Thanksgiving Thursdays. We work just as hard – if not harder to be sure we give the best we have every day, but somehow Thursdays carry a little bit of a different feeling. That feeling seeps into the nooks and crannies of the staff’s relationship. We all feel like we are doing something important for our community. Feeding the hungry is more satisfying than any of us would have initially realized.
We would never want to give up John’s tradition and are proud to be a part of it. Do you have a restaurant in your area that looks out for the hungry? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.