Five decades of warm thoughts came rushing back last weekend. Remembering my first meal at Melear’s Barbecue Restaurant when I moved to Fayetteville was the first one. It came with a glass of sweet tea that was almost too big to hold.
The servers were always the same and it didn’t take too long to get to know each other’s name.
You soon learned that a nonprofit in the county could count on him to contribute a tub of cole slaw to their event. A church could send a hungry family to the restaurant with a phone call to send them a bill for the meal but Kenny always took care of it.
You remembered the cooks that remained with him for decades even though they could find easier work with more pay elsewhere. Now, if you were there for breakfast, it didn’t matter how you ordered your eggs and bacon, they were served however the cooks felt like fixing them that day and you had better not complain. One morning I was there and someone complained, which Kenny decided to pass on to the cooks. He told one of them, she was pretty hefty in size, to grab a meat cleaver and burst into the dining room looking threatening. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard since as we all did that morning.
Back in the 1970s I was a volunteer EMT and worked a night shift once a month. With two children to feed, I had to work a paying job during the day. If I was coming back from an ambulance run, say at 5 a.m., I could always count on going in to Kenny’s restaurant at that hour knowing the coffee was already done.
You may be gone in person, Kenny, but you have left thousands of people with several thousand warm memories.