Friday, August 31, 2012

A Place of Respite Without Frills


It is a unique eating experience with a very limited menu, very few tables, no plates, plastic eating utensils, and paper cups. No hostesses or servers, you find your own table, and sometimes you have to clean it yourself before you begin to eat.
Some people take their food on the run. They order it, and then juggle the drinks and food while pushing their overloaded carts filled with goods (sometimes pushing a “pallet”) not to mention an errant toddler or two. 
Others just come in for an inexpensive lunch.  It is a refugee from the rhythm of the "clock" environment.  Anonymity is another feature of the eatery. You can turn off you cell or pager and disappear.
            Friday evenings are filled with families who order pizza ahead of their arrival. They come with their brood.  Loud children, crumbs, and spills are forgiven in this warehouse environment. The food is good. The children are happy. Mom and dad don’t have to cook.             
            Meals are not the only offering for diners to treat their palates. There is a variety of sweets, starting with a deep-fried doughy cinnamon stick called a churro that often is used as a bribe by parents.  Frozen smoothies tempt the most discriminating patron. The ice cream sundaes are so large that they can feed a family of four.  The self-serve soda fountain offers endless drinks. Water is free.
The customers are diverse. Young women, senior couples, business men and women, mechanics, electricians, carpenters, grandparents toting grandchildren, and young couples line up for a drink and a hot dog or a simple slice of pizza for a mere $1.50.
            Some eat and leave, some stay and chew slowly, and watch the customers leave the premise. Others engage in lively conversation about what they purchased, planning how to store it or assembled it. Many just sit there and sip on a drink while the person who accompanied them writes a list of the things they came to buy. Some wait for prescriptions, a ride to come pick them up, or just take the opportunity to just catch their breath.
            Yes, you really can’t call it a food court, cafĂ©, or an eating establishment. There is nothing fancy or elaborate about the menu choices. It is just a spot of respite in the midst of consumerism at its best.

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