Tag Archives: Restaurant

The Forgiven Restaurant

There is a saying that goes something like this: You fool me once, shame on you; you fool me twice, shame on me. No one likes to be snookered. Those who have been burned once often make sure they can’t be burned again. Who can blame them? I was determined not to get burned twice – at a “terrible” restaurant.

I have been a vegetarian for more than 20 years. I can assure you, that unless you lived in some “pocket” of vegetarian population, there just weren’t many options for vegetarians 20 years ago in restaurants. Grilled cheese or Mac&Cheese are good fail safes for most, but since my body can’t process cheese (thanks to Crohn’s surgery), I had even less options than other vegetarians. The last thing I needed was to eat at a restaurant that insisted on penalizing me for getting my dish without the meat.

That’s exactly what happened one day at lunch with my coworkers. I asked for a salad without the meat. I’m willing to pay the full price still, I just don’t want the meat. The server told me I would have to pay an upcharge for the change. Seriously? You guys can use that meat for something else and I’m going to pay you to do that? I bit the bullet and ordered the salad so my friends and I didn’t have to find another restaurant on our already short lunch break. But the restaurant made it on my list of places never to return to service.

About a year ago, a “Get Healthy Marshall” program came to town. Many experts came talking about the health benefits of a simpler, plant based diet. The Mayor of Marshall, Texas, was all for it as he had seen his own health issues improve after adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Several restaurants in town went public with offering special menus to be in accordance with the new “plant strong” lifestyle. And it is very popular in Marshall, Texas!

Karl and I went for lunch today. To the “terrible” restaurant as they are now on the list of establishments offering a healthier fare. I went with full knowledge that a “better” restaurant down the street was available if this terrible restaurant still tried to penalize people for being vegetarians. The options were few. Other restaurants have a lot more plant strong offerings, but it was delicious! The atmosphere was perfect for our lunch and the service was spot on. When paying for our meal, I told the owner about giving her restaurant a second chance and being glad that I did.

When she heard my story, she admitted that whoever had insisted on charging me extra for leaving off the meat was probably someone without much food service experience and who didn’t work for her for very long. She was grateful that I had given her restaurant a second chance and thrilled that we enjoyed our experience there today.

I walked out of that restaurant having no desire to carry a grudge about what had happened in the past, and thankful for grace. I gave that restaurant grace and a second chance. But God had given me grace, extended forgiveness to me when I was unforgiving toward others that had harmed me. God reminded me that I’ve had my share of second chances.

Was there a risk that I would have gotten “burned” again? Of course. Life is full of risks. But God risked everything to extend grace to me. I’m glad He prompted me to extend grace to this restaurant. Besides the beauty of forgiveness, I tasted one of the best veggie sandwiches ever!

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It’s all in the Fettucini

I once knew a woman that always checked out the bathroom of any home she was visiting. She said it was her way of finding out what they were really like. It was a rather odd thing to say as she was visiting the home of my grandparents after my uncle had just died, but it has certainly stuck in my memory. The bathroom was her test. To this woman, the cleanliness of the bathroom indicated whether or not this family really kept things tidy or just managed to shove a few things out of the way when they heard the doorbell ring.

I don’t go around testing the homes of other people. I have three active children, therefore I have enough to worry about in my own home! But we do test Italian restaurants. I have a very simple test – is there anything here I can eat? I’m a bit of an oddity, as I’m a vegetarian that can’t eat cheese trying to eat at an Italian restaurant, but I manage. It’s a very simple test – is there anything here I can eat? I’ve only been refused service at one restaurant, which by the way has since closed down.

The real test for Italian restaurants is the Fettucini Alfredo. First of all, is it delicious. Secondly, is it consistent. My husband devours Fettucini Alfredo, or for some of you, Fettuccini Alfredo. Truthfully, it used to annoy me that he wouldn’t try anything new at an Italian restaurant – it always had to be the Fettucini Alfredo. Alas, years of working on our marriage and seeing that he is not like me and I am not like him has produced in me a new appreciation for his Fettucini test.

On a recent medical trip for our daughter, we stopped at an Italian Restaurant we had never eaten at before. Of course Karl ordered the Fettucini Alfredo. As soon as the steaming hot plate of deliciousness was delivered to our table, I could see him giving it the visual part of his test. This plate passed. I began to ask the normal questions. How does it compare to such and such restaurant? I’m always amazed at how many ways there are to describe the experience of eating various versions of Fettucini Alfredo.

There was one restaurant in Shreveport, Louisiana, that had the most beautifully paper thin fettucini that melted in Karl’s mouth. We decided to go again and take friends to share the wonderful experience with us, but the restaurant wasn’t consistent. They no longer have a great rating on Karl’s Fettucini scale, but he still remembers that one day he got a really good dish of it there. It remains the one dish of Fettucini Alfredo that he judges all others by.

As stated before, it used to annoy me that my husband always and only ordered the same thing at Italian restaurants whereas I love to try whatever I can eat! But I’ve learned, much to his joy, that this is a process for my husband. This is how he makes the connection of what he likes and doesn’t like. It’s how he analyzes (he does this a lot) to determine if this is a restaurant worth coming back to or not. If I try to persuade him to eat something else, I’m robbing him of his connection – of how he rates Italian restaurants. To his credit, however, my husband will try other dishes once he has eaten at a restaurant before and has had enough experiences with their Fettucini Alfredo to warrant a slight deviation from the standard order.

How do you connect with your neighborhood? Is there one particular part of it that you always use as a guide for how your little corner of the world is doing? How do you connect with your larger community, your kids’ schools and your local government? Your local City Council meeting won’t be serving Fettucini Alfredo for you to taste and see where they are at, but I’m sure there are other ways you can gauge your community. Take some time. Get connected. If you find your community isn’t what it used to be, get involved and turn it around! It’s easy to stop going to a restaurant because they aren’t consistent in the food they prepare and serve, but you can’t just leave your community. Get involved and make it great!

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