California Good

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 ( 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?
Email Eva

*The opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions, Inc.
Talk to Eva
Community Alerts

California Good
December 2001

Give Pigs a Chance
November 2001

Sandra Walker
October 2001

August 2001

Cytech Computers, Inc

WNC Guide
P.O. Box 816
Flat Rock, NC 28731
(828) 692-5177

| WNC Attractions | WNC Business | WNC Entertainment | WNC Healthcare |
| WNC Lodging | WNC Real Estate | WNC News & Views | WNC Lifestyles | Home Page |

©1996-2004 CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions. All Rights Reserved.