Roy Exum: Mary’s Gourmet Diner

Sunday, August 3, 2014 - by Roy Exum

There is a restaurant in Winston-Salem, N.C., that has an incredible reputation. Everything served at Mary’s Gourmet Diner is made from scratch and not prepared until a meal is ordered. People are friendly and kind and both breakfast and lunch is wonderful. And then there is the cash register.

Not long ago a lady named Jordan Smith and a co-worker stopped by Mary’s for lunch and, after their meal was prepared and set on the table, Jordan bowed her head as is her custom and said grace before enjoying the meal. No big deal – you still see that in the South. But when her check arrived at the table, there on her receipt were the unmistakable words “ -15% -- Praying in Public.”

Jordan was dumbfounded and placed a picture of the unusual receipt, which has since gone viral, on her Facebook page. The owner of the restaurant, 60-year-old Mary Haglund, says it is no big deal. “For me, every plate of food is a gift,” she recently told TheBlaze website. “and I never take that for granted when I see someone in a restaurant honoring their gratefulness at my table. It touches my heart.”

Wait, before you call the ACLU and charge that Mary is giving Christians an unfair advantage, listen to what else she said. “It’s not a policy … it’s something we only do when we are moved to do it. We are so fortunate in this country.”

Haglund said if any waiter or server is uncomfortable with the discount, they are certainly not forced to give it. As a matter of fact, Mary was the child of missionaries in the Philippines who fell away from her faith as she got older. She still describes herself as a spiritual person who believes in a higher power and is amused over her sudden fame. “We’ve been applying the discount for about four years and nobody has made anything of it. It’s just that when I was a teenager in the Philippines I saw a lot of needy people.”

“It is just about taking a moment, or faithfulness about the plate of food. It has nothing to do with any specific religion,” she explained but to Jordan Smith (and now thousands of others) it meant a great deal. Elated over what happened, she later put a copy of her receipt on Orlando radio station Z-88.3’s Facebook page. “I just posted it and it’s really been fun to see where (the viral reaction) it’s gone from there.”

If you are ever in Winston-Salem, try to have lunch at Mary’s Gourmet Diner. Say grace before you eat and, if the waitress doesn’t see you and give you the discount, the food will taste even better than it would have. What a deal!

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FROM A READER: There were five houses of religion in a small town: the Presbyterian church, the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the Catholic church, and the Jewish synagogue.  Each church and synagogue was overrun with pesky squirrels.

One day, the Presbyterian church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will.

In the Baptist church the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a cover on the baptistery and drown the squirrels in it. The squirrels escaped somehow and there were twice as many there the next week.

The Methodist church got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creation. So, they humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.

But, the Catholic church came up with the best and most effective solution. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter.

Not much was heard about the Jewish synagogue, but they took one squirrel and had a short service with him called circumcision and they haven't seen a squirrel on the property since.

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