A restaurant is more than a restaurant

When you think of a restaurant probably the first thing that comes to your mind, or at least subconscious, is that a restaurant is a place to eat.  But it is clearly more than that.  After all, we also eat in our homes.  

As restaurants all across the country (and world) have been shut down—these ubiquitous places that line our downtown streets, poised at highly trafficked corners, and positioned at strategic locations—we have been deprived of something so significant that without them we feel lost and empty.  Clearly, a restaurant is more than a place to eat.  

A restaurant is also a meeting place, a gathering place, and a connecting place.   A place for conversation.  A place to be “served.” A place to hear background music.  A place to feel special.  A place to meet friends.  A place for business to be conducted.  A place where families can enjoy a meal without the stress of having to work to make it.  A place where feelings are expressed, love is ignited, and proposals are uttered.  A place to go to and get out of the house. 

For the millions of people who work at restaurants it is also more than a place to work.  Working at a restaurant is a place where we engage productively with others.  A place where employees meet and become friends.  A high energy place where the coordination of efforts is like a symphony of talent on display.  It is a place where people serve other people.  A place where our strengths and talents are discovered and used.  Yes, it is also a place to earn and income.

To the thousands of restaurant owners—especially those who have put their life savings and everything they have into one place—a restaurant is also more than a profit center.  Yes, it is a profit center, but more than just to fill the coffers of the owner, but where the owner gainfully employees’ tens, and even hundreds of employees.  

One of the most gratifying things I have heard during this time are restaurant owners who had to shut down express heartfelt concern for their staff.  It reveals the heart of the owner, the servant leaders who sacrifice for the sake of their employees.   I’ve even heard owners who have said they are not making any money (aka, profit) but are at least able to pay some of their employees and keep them working.  

One thing for sure, a restaurant is more than a restaurant …. And by the way—a retail store is more than a retail store, a grocery store is more than a grocery store, and a business in more than a business. 

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