Food for Thought

These last few weeks of us living in an alternate reality has brought many heartwarming stories of kind and generous deeds performed by people seeking only to do good in the world and, where possible, to make tough times a little less challenging for others.

A TV news story a few weeks ago caught my attention – this story is one that demands repeating.

There is a small, family-owned restaurant located in Kensington – a trendy inner-city community in Calgary.

It is called Marathon Ethiopian restaurant and was started by a young immigrant and his wife 23 years ago in 1997.

Few restaurants survive their first five years and for a small unknown family business selling a product unfamiliar to the local market to survive and prosper for that length of time is a feat worthy of recognition.

They’ve done well, and built a sustainable business. However that isn’t what caught my attention. Rather, it’s what they are doing to give back to the community that is so extraordinary.

As we all know certain industries have taken far bigger hits than others. Without doubt, the restaurant industry has become one of the largest victims of this economic tsunami.

Many have closed completely while others, open only for takeout business, have reported decreases in sales of up to 95%. Many of those that are still open may not be open much longer and a lot of those that are closed will never reopen.

It so happens that an acquaintance of mine has a business relationship with the owners of this restaurant and he gladly connected me with the owner when I asked him to do so.

I called Mike the restaurant owner and learned that he had emigrated to Canada in 1995 and two years later was able to bring his wife to live here. That same year, on a shoestring budget, they opened the restaurant that has supported their growing family for the past 23 years.

I have never visited that restaurant. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant, but having spoken with Mike, and knowing what they are doing to help others in this time of challenge, Gimalle and I plan on being among the first diners at their establishment when the day comes that restaurants are, once again open for business.

Despite their own hardships, the family behind Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant is offering free lunches to any hungry person who drops by every Wednesday for the foreseeable future.

On any given Wednesday, the cost of feeding these folks may well exceed that day’s – perhaps even that week’s – somewhat meagre revenues.

But that does not matter to this family. What matters more is giving back to a community that welcomed an under-funded immigrant family and afforded them the opportunity to build and prosper.

Last week we touched on the importance of gratitude. This is what gratitude in spades looks like and is but one tiny example that proves we are all blessed to live in the greatest country on earth.

People doing things for people can only serve to make our world a better place.

Thanks Mike.

Till we read again.

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