Stephen Black, move over (please). It's my turn to tell our neighbors
about a favorite menu stop. Now, this is no ordinary restaurant.
Oh yes, it has the expected great food, tempting variety and friendly
surroundings but it also has a "reason in keeping with the
season" that is quite unique.
Can you imagine a restaurant where almost all the staff are unpaid
volunteers and all its profits go to charity? Imagine it. It's called
the California Fresh Buffet. This wonderful experiment in human
goodness was brought our way in the May issue of Our State, down
home in North Carolina magazine. According to this delightfully
written article by Jimmy Tomlin, volunteers include doctors, CPA's,
attorneys, carpenters, teachers and stay-at-home parents. A couple
of nights a week you can see the most popular volunteer, physician
Dr. Stephen Leighton, "dispensing chicken strips and medical
advice on request. "Eat four strips of chicken and call me
in the morning," Leighton has been heard to tell diners."
(Our State) Most first time patrons are surprised by the friendly
smiling attitudes of the "employees" and "every 90
minutes or so, a few volunteers stop what they are doing and entertain
diners with a made-up song or two." The all-you-care-to-eat
California Fresh Buffet has been open for over a year now and features
a mile long California "rabbit" section as well as a hot
bar with traditional dishes such as meat loaf, chicken and vegetables
and non-traditional specialties like the Famous Outer Banks Black
Bean Casserole. There is another food bar that features a different
theme cuisine-Italian or Caribbean anyone?--each night.
Desserts are aplenty and almost best of all, the price won't take
away your southern comfort. $7.99 for adults, $6.27 for 62+, and
$3.50 for well behaved children 3-12. Now the question is, What
kind of people would be behind such an enterprise? That is as much
a part of the story as the story itself.
For 14 years a confrere of citizens in Winston Salem has dedicated
itself to caring for terminally ill adults and developmentally disabled
children, giving proof to the words, "There is more happiness
in giving than in there is in receiving." This group known
as the Human Service Alliance seeks to demonstrate by serving others
that there is an innate goodness in man. Their program has received
national and international attention with countless requests for
information on their program's success. As a result of these requests,
they established the University for Human Goodness (www.ushg.org)
where students learn the finer points of human service as demonstrated
by the Alliance. The restaurant idea was born three years ago to
create a project in which people could use what they were learning
in a business environment rather than a human service setting. Keep
in mind that no one on this board had ever run a restaurant. How
is it doing?
"Serving only one meal a day-dinner Monday through Saturday,
lunch on Sunday-California Fresh Buffet averages more than 350 customers
daily…The restaurant draws more than 600 diners on Friday
and Saturday evenings. The restaurant has been so successful that
profits are being distributed to charities, such as the Second Harvest
Food Bank of North Carolina, Samaritan Ministries, and Helping Hearts,
a project that assists children with disabilities. The charitable
grants range from $500 to $6,000, and those numbers likely will
increase with the growth of the restaurant…"
I know "my" restaurant won't be as easy to frequent as
Stephen's recommendations. However, I knew that many of you would
be traveling this holiday season and might just be in the Winston
Salem area during the dinner hour. So, traveling east on I-40, take
the Downtown I-40 route, exit right past Baptist Hospital at Peter's
Creek Parkway. At the top of the ramp, turn right and proceed a
little under one mile. This inspirational little piece of California
gold is located on the right after the Arby's hat. (336 777-0145)
If receptionist Sue Rose (hospital social worker in real life) is
there, give her a hearty handshake for me and congratulate her and
all the other hardworking volunteers who, in the words of fellow
volunteer Joseph Kilpatrick ,"are all here because of some
kind of calling, because we want to give ourselves in service. I
think it's just a sense of wanting to make a positive difference
in the lives of others."
When one reflects on this labor of love and all the uncounted acts
of selfless kindness that surround us in our own community it is
no wonder "For God so loved the world…"
To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get
comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts
on the matter?
opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do
not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet