What a Restaurant can teach the Church about Hospitality

welcome

What makes you feel welcome?

I’ve noticed that, when my wife and I eat-out in a restaurant, there’s always someone who is ready to greet us the moment we walk in the door.

I’ve noticed that restaurants always have people who are “in place,” who are ready to help me find my way through the hustle and bustle, and who are dedicated to the task of helping me to feel both “comfortable” and “at home.”

I’ve noticed that servers in restaurants almost always tell me their names when we first meet, so that I know somebody by name when I need help. They usually even wear a name tag, so that I don’t feel uncomfortable if I need to talk with them—even though I’ve forgotten their names.

I’ve noticed that restaurants clearly mark the path to the restrooms, so that I don’t need to ask for directions. None of us like to ask for directions to the restroom, do we?

I’ve noticed that most restaurants have high-chairs—because they don’t expect parents to bring everything that their children will need during the visit. When you’re expecting children, you make special provisions for them, don’t you?

I’ve noticed that most restaurants (at least in America) provide menus that are written in English (which, conveniently, is the language I speak) because people want to clearly know what they’re ordering. I’ve never been impressed by a menu that contained fancy words that I didn’t understand.

I’ve noticed that restaurants put “Reserved” signs on seats and tables that are set aside for use by other people. I never need to worry about sitting in someone’s seat and being asked to get out of someone’s seat in a restaurant.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people need to do a lot of different things to make me feel both welcomed and embraced. Hospitality is the outgrowth of strong teamwork.

I’ve noticed that servers seldom complain to customers about their managers, about the cook, or about the people who clean the tables. I enjoy feeling welcomed and embraced, but there IS such a thing as “too much information” during my first visit.

I’ve noticed that the people understand that I’m visiting the restaurant to be fed—I’m not expecting to be asked to help cook my own meal, to pour coffee for other people, and to get the table ready for the next guests who will use it. When I’m visiting a restaurant, I’m not expecting to be offered some sort of “job” before I leave.

I’ve noticed that I’m far more likely to return to places where I have felt the welcome and embrace of other people—when I’ve been made to feel appreciated and important—and when I’ve felt that people were doing their best to make me feel “at home.”

Blessings!